Constantine coach Denis Lavagne looks to Manchester United, Ajax for inspiration against Esperance

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Constantine’s bid for a historical Caf Champions League semi-final berth appears to be in tatters following the home defeat to Esperance

Club Sportif Constantine coach Denis Lavagne is drawing inspiration from Manchester United and Ajax Amsterdam as his side eye a sensational comeback against defending champions Esperance in the Caf Champions League quarter-final, return leg.

The Algerians lost 3-2 at home in Saturday's first leg and now face a tall order when they visit the Tunisians in Rades, where they have to win by a two-goal margin to qualify for the last four.

Referring to Manchester United and Ajax’s remarkable turnaround tales in this season’s Uefa Champions League, Lavagne feels it is possible to upset Esperance away.

In the Uefa Champions League knock-outs, Ajax responded to a 2-1 home defeat by thrashing holders Real Madrid 4-1 in the Spanish capital to send the defending champions packing.

Manchester United, meanwhile, lost 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in their first leg, but claimed a dramatic 3-1 win in Paris to join Ajax in the last eight of Europe's premier club competition.

While attributing Saturday’s defeat to Esperance’s vast experience in this competition, Lavagne said they can pull similar spectacular exploits staged by United and Ajax when they travel to Tunisia.

“But I would say that the experience Esperance players made the difference. As for our chances of qualification, everything is possible and we must not lose confidence,” Lavagne was quoted as saying by Le Buteur.

“PSG won in Manchester, but Manchester United overturned in Paris and qualified. This was the (same) case with Ajax Amsterdam who went to Madrid for qualification against Real Madrid.

"We are not Ajax or Manchester United, but in football everything is possible, even if we know that our mission will be difficult. I hope to recover the injured players and we will go to Rades to win and qualify for the last four.”

Constantine are in their debut season in the Caf Champions League group, and reaching the quarter-finals was already an achievement of note.

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While Esperance’s 3-2 away win appears to be a healthy result that would require a monumental collapse to surrender, the holders’ coach Mouine is refusing to say that his side are already in the semis.

“We have certainly taken a big step towards qualification, but we have not yet qualified. We have to confirm in the second leg at home, because CS Constantine have nothing to lose and will play all their cards to reverse the situation,” Chaabani said.

Esperance are the only undefeated side in this season’s Champions League campaign so far.

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