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Raja coach warns players of difficult task ahead

© Reuters 2002

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Raja Casablanca coach Walter Meeuws warned his players on Monday they faced a tough task going into the second leg of their African Champions League semi-final with a two goal deficit against ASEC Abidjan.

Meeuws, a former manager of Belgium, said the Moroccan side's concentration had slipped, conceding two late goals to ASEC in Saturday's first leg in the Ivory Coast.

"We played well and were perfectly organised for the first 80 minutes of the match but then we gave them some space and they scored twice," he said after the 2-0 defeat.

"The return is going to be very difficult but that's football," he said of the second leg, which Raja host in Casablanca on November 17. "It is still possible but we must score three goals and if we let one in, then it will be all over for us."

Raja, who have won two of the last six Champions League tournaments, conceded goals by substitute Christian Koffi Ndri in the 80th and 89th minute after an otherwise strong defensive performance against the highly-rated ASEC attack.

ASEC coach Idrissa Traore said he was satisfied with the result: "It is a good score to travel with."

But the Burkina Faso-born coach said he was more delighted at the return of captain Abdoulaye Djire, who was suspended for Saturday's first leg.

"His absence was an enormous handicap for us in midfield and other changes I made to try and rectify this did not work out. We did not create as many chances as we normally do," he said.

ASEC are chasing their second Champions League title since last winning in 1998.

In Sunday's other semi-final, Egyptian club Zamalek held TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo to a 1-1 draw in Lubumbashi.

Zamalek striker Abdelhalim Ali scored just after halftime, then Mbombonko Ngoy equalised for TP Mazembe, featuring in their first African Champions League semi-final in 30 years.

The two sides play the second leg in Cairo on November 15.

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