Ten-man Raja Casablanca held their nerves to clinch their second TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup title after beating Algerian side JS Kabilye 2-1 in an entertaining final played in Cotonou, Benin.
Soufiane Rahimi and Ben Malango scored for Raja within the first quarter of an hour of the game to put them in the driver’s seat. However, Kabilye came back stronger in the second half with Mohamed Zakaria Boulahia halving the deficit just moments into the second half.
Raja were reduced to 10 men in the 62nd minute when Omar Arjoune was sent off for a high boot, but the Moroccan side held on to ensure they clinched the victory and their second Confederation Cup title.
Rahimi, voted the outstanding player at the African Nations Championship in Cameroon last February, dribbled past goalkeeper Oussama Benbot to score on five minutes.
Kabylie protested that the Moroccan was offside, but South African referee Victor Gomes awarded the goal after a VAR check.
Rahimi turned creator as Raja doubled their advantage on 14 minutes thanks to a close-range shot from physically imposing Congolese Malango.
Boulahia scored his third goal of the Confederation Cup campaign by slamming a rebound past goalkeeper Anas Zniti and into the bottom left corner of the net.
It was the second Confederation Cup triumph within four seasons for Raja and eighth overall in CAF competitions, confirming them as the fifth most successful club.
Raja have won the Champions League three times, the Confederation Cup and Super Cup twice each and the now defunct CAF Cup once.
Al Ahly are the runaway leaders with 21 titles followed by another Egyptian side, Zamalek, and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo with 11 each, Etoile Sahel of Tunisia with nine and Raja with eight.
Apart from the $1.25 million (1.05 mn euros) first prize, Raja will face the CAF Champions League winners for the CAF Super Cup on a date to be announced.
Ahly are hot favourites to win the Champions League a record-extending 10th time next Saturday when they face shock qualifiers Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa in the title decider in Casablanca.