Fans’ favourite Mubele Ndombe broke the deadlock in the first half and midfielder Luvumbu Nzinga increased the tally few minutes into the second half before left-back Ali Maaloul pulled one back for the Tunisians to make the return leg all to play.
A lone goal victory in the second leg scheduled for Saturday, 27 September 2014 at the Taieb Mhiri Stadium would be enough to land the Tunisians a place at the ultimate round, whilst the DR Congo side need at least a stalemate to reach their first final since 1981, where they suffered a 5-0 aggregate win against JS Kabylie of Algeria.
Every inch of space at the Tata Raphael Stadium in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa was covered in the green, yellow and black colours of the ‘Black Dolphins’ as the crowd cheered on their side for the result they so much desired.
AS Vita, winners in 1973 were in control from the onset with dangerman Ndombe and Yunus Sentamu asking the Sfaxien defence several questions.
Ndombe was a thorn in the flesh of the Sfaxien rear and his swift runs on the left exposed Ghana-born Maman Youssufou, who manned the right-back for the Tunisians. Four minutes past the half-hour mark, Ndombe beat his marker and laid to Sentamu, but the Ugandan blasted wide from close range.
Three minutes on, the stadium erupted into ecstasy after Ndombe broke the deadlock with an acrobatic finish from a corner-kick. Sentamu volleyed in from the corner before Ndombe finished off with an acrobatic shot past Sfaxien goalie Rami Jridi.
It was the kind of result the hosts so badly wanted going into recess and they resumed with the same momentum. Sfaxien also came into the picture briefly as Gabonese-import Didier Ndong and Ferdjani Sassi regaining control of the midfield in between.
On 54 minutes, the hosts doubled the lead through Nzinga, who delivered a curling shot from a free-kick that Jridi had no answers.
Down by two goals, Sfaxien took the game to the Congolese launching several threats at goal in search of a crucial away goal, to keep their ambitions on track.
On 69 minutes, captain Maaloul led by example with a curler from a free-kick at the edge of the AS Vita penalty area that beat Nelson Lukong for the first time.
Sfaxien pressed further but Imed Louati was denied by Lukong in a one-on-one situation on 77 minutes.
A minute from time, Mohamed Ali Moncer was gifted with the best chance to draw even for the Tunisians, but after breaking loose and beating his markers, he blew his final touch wide with only Lukong to beat.
The winner will face either ES Setif of Algeria or DR Congo’s TP Mazembe in the final where a whopping $1.5 million is stake for the eventual champion.