Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Profile Supplement Travel Sports People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
Advancing en masseBy Nashwa Abdel-Tawab
Egypt's three clubs stayed alive as second-leg matches in the three African club championships were played throughout the continent.
In a highly unusual encounter, Masri of Egypt beat former champions Asante Kotoko of Ghana in the Cup Winners Cup, but the victory was already assured even before the match began. The irregular situation was caused by Kotoko player George Arthur, a former member of Egypt's Ahli club who left the team without warning in 1997. Masri officials insisted that Arthur, who is technically suspended, should not be on Kotoko's roster. Arthur played the first leg but did not show up in Port Said. Shortly before the second leg, the African Football Association (CAF) decided the match should be played but added that Masri would be considered the winner whatever the outcome. The CAF decision was intended to punish Kotoko for allowing Arthur to play in the first leg despite his suspension. The result imbued the Port Said debutantês with enough confidence to down Kotoko 4-2 on penalties, wiping out a 1-0 first-leg deficit.
Africa Sports of Côte d'Ivoire reached the quarter-finals of the same championship after completing a double over Simba of Uganda with a 2-0 home win through goals from Fadel Keita and Issoufou Al-Hassane.
In the African Champions League, Shooting Stars of Nigeria staged a dramatic second-leg recovery to reach the second round of the event. The West African champions trounced Kaloum of Guinea 6-0 in Ibadan with two goals each from Baldwin Bazuaye, Duke Udi and Peter Obanor to qualify 6-3 on aggregate.
The stunning success by the 1984 and 1996 Champions League runners-up wiped out memories of a shock 3-0 loss in Guinea two weeks ago that appeared to spell the end for the Nigerians. Shooting Stars will face Daring Club Motema Pembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo in a delayed second-round tie on dates to be announced.
The winner will join title holders ASEC of Côte d'Ivoire, Ahli of Egypt, Raja Casablanca of Morocco, Hearts of Oak of Ghana, Saint Louisienne of Reunion, Esperance of Tunisia and Dynamos of Zimbabwe.
Beshir El-Tabi'e on one of Zamalek's unfinished attacks
photo: Mohamed Wassim
Raja Casablanca squeezed through on penalties in Mali following a 2-1 loss to Djoliba while Ahli of Egypt marched on despite a 1-0 defeat in the rain against Rayon Sport in Rwanda. Billy Mbusa scored the first-half winner from a penalty kick in the 41st minute. Ahli had beaten Rayon Sport 3-0 in Cairo in the first leg. Only 8,000 fans turned up in Rwanda although the stadium which China built in 1987 can hold 30,000 spectators.
Dynamos were runners-up to ASEC last year and a 16th-minute header from veteran midfielder Lloyd Mutasa gave them a 1-0 home win over Vital of Burundi and a 3-0 aggregate success.
Club Africain of Tunisia were another team to achieve home and away wins, overcoming Dynamo Douala 2-0 in Cameroon to canter into the next round 6-0 on aggregate.
Adlane Hadj scored a hat-trick as USMA of Algeria walloped Al-Ahli of Sudan 5-0 in the Confederation Cup while two second-half goals from Tarek El-Said gave Zamalek of Egypt a 3-0 victory over Stade Tamponnaise of Reunion. Zamalek performed lackadaisically, perhaps secure in the knowledge that it was facing a below-par team following their first-leg scoreless draw.