AS Vita coach Florent Ibenge says the red card to defender Dharles Kalonji was the turning point that saw them lose their Caf Champions League Group D opener to Al Ahly away in Alexandria on Saturday.
Kalonji was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 36th minute, leaving Vita with a tough task to contain their numerical disadvantage.
Although the Congolese giants tried to hold Ahly at bay, they finally succumbed to Nasser Maher’s goal on the 65th minute, before Tunisian defender Ali Maaloul finished them off with a controversially awarded penalty.
However, Ibenge feels the red card to Kalonji was what decided the fate of the match.
“We had several problems during the match, we have five games remaining and we will work on resolving these issues,” Ibenge told Kingfut.
“The sent-off negatively affected my team’s performance, we faced a lot of difficulties during the game because of that incident. I know that Al Ahly is the best team in Africa, but we will work on qualifying for the next round.”
Vita will host Simba in their next match seeking to recover but will be wary of the fact that the Tanzanian giants opened their group stage campaign with a 3-0 thumping of Algerian side Saoura.
The Zimbabwean giants held Pirates at a fully-packed Barbourfields Stadium where the majority of fans overwhelmingly rooted for the visitors who easily felt at home.
But Mapeza is content with the draw as they made their Champions League bow.
“It was a good game of football, the guys really worked very hard and for me as a coach this is really a positive result,” Mapeza told reporters after the match.
“Of course we wanted to win the match but this is a positive result I am more than happy with a point. We have five games to go in the group stages and this is our first time in the group stages so we just need to enjoy the ride.”
The platinum miners visit defending champions Esperance in their next match on Friday. They face an Esperance side that was frustrated to a 1-1 away draw at Horoya last Friday.