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CS Constantine coach Denis Lavagne bemoans injuries ahead of crucial match against Esperance

7:42 PM GMT+4 12/04/2019
The Algerians seek to overturn a 3-2 first leg home defeat against defending champions Esperance while missing key players

CS Constantine coach Denis Lavange has decried the absence of chief striker Ismail Belkacemi and midfielder Sid Ali Lamri, as they prepare to taken on holders Esperance in a Caf Champions League quarter-final, second leg match in Rades on Saturday.

The Algerian champions arrived in Tunisia without the two key players whom they had hoped would recover for this match after also missing the first leg last weekend.

With focus on fighting to reverse the 3-2 loss they suffered at home last weekend, Lavagne has admitted that his plans have been turned upside-down by missing his two players.

“I would have liked Lamri and Belkacemi's services against Esperance this Saturday, but it's a shame because both players are still injured and will be out for this second leg. Their absence upset my plans, but fortunately I recovered (Adil) Djabout and (Lamine) Abid and also (Kadour) Beldjilali,” Lavagne was quoted as saying by L’initiative.

Djabout scored in the first leg but was later on substituted with an injury which he has since recovered from.

Abid came on as a substitutein that match, while Beldjilali is returning after missing a couple of games.

Lavagne says he now has a clear picture of how Esperance play and can use that to upset the Tunisians.

He has also tried to shield his players from the pressure that comes with a match of such magnitude.

“I think we know the Esperance pretty well. We have a broader idea about the qualities and weaknesses of our opponents. We are not afraid of Esperance and we will be ready this Saturday for a great match,” he said.

“I believe that the pressure will be on the shoulders of the players of Esperance. We will play without any pressure and we have nothing to lose, as long as the opponent is the title holder. We must exploit this factor to surprise Tunisians and beat them at home and in front of their supporters.”

This season is Constantine's first foray into the quarter-finals of the Caf Champions League.