The Moroccans, winners in 2010 were seconds away from a final berth after Mohamed Nahiri fired them into the lead on 73 minutes, only for the dream to go up in smoke after Rahal levelled in stoppage time, allowing the Algerian debutants passage into the decisive stage via the away goal rule after a 1-1 tie on aggregate.
The feat sums up a fairytale run by ‘Les Crabes’ based in the Mediterranean port city of Bejaia, on their first attempt in a major continental club championship.
After a barren draw in the first leg at home, many were those who gave the Algerians little or no chance of progressing. But they did turn the books in style, at the expense of no mean a club like FUS Rabat, who engraved their name on the title only six years ago, and at their backyard.
The host held on to the lead until the final minute when the visitors capitalised on a sloppy defending by the FUS Rabat backline from a free-kick to level through Nahal from close range.
Bejaia becomes the second Algerian club to reach the final of the second-tier continental club championship after ES Setif in 2009, who lost to Stade Malien of Mali on penalties.
Hoalid Regragui (Head Coach, FUS Rabat)
In truth, we played very well throughout the match. We created many chances in both halves but failed to convert most of them. Subsequently, we managed to score at the right time, but had a difficult period afterwards. Bejaia were lucky, otherwise we deserved to qualify.
Nacer Sandjak (Head Coach, MO Bejaia)
This is amazing and words cannot describe our joy. Glory be to God, we have realized our dream, which we did not let go off throughout the match. The best we got was scoring a goal at a very difficult time. At that time, the Moroccans believed they were in the final. I doff my hat off to my players who believed until the end. I congratulate them for their. This is a historic qualification.
Faouzi Rahal (Midfielder, MO Bejaia)
Everyone believed that 0-0 draw from the first leg was a bad result, but for us the players, at no point did we think it was over. We conducted a game of courage that will forever stay in the club’s history. I dedicate this victory to all the people and all those who have trusted us so far.