Three out of three
Ahli's record in the African Champions League could not be better, writes Abeer Anwar
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Ahli's Gilberto (centre) manoeuvers with the ball against Nigeria's Ajax players photo: El-Sayed Abdel-Qader
Ahli kept their perfect streak alive, beating Ajax Cape Town 2-0 in Cairo in Group A quarter- finals round of the African Champions League. The win gave the Egyptian club nine points from three consecutive victories. Ahli top the group and are near to reaching the semi-finals.
With the least effort, Ahli overcame the South African contenders. Ahmed El-Sayed opened the scoring in the fifth minute. Emad Metab added an insurance goal in extra time.
The absence of Mohamed Shawki in the midfield affected greatly Ahli's performance. And only the magical saves of Ahli's goalkeeper Essam El-Hadari kept Ajax off the scoreboard. El-Hadari, Ahli's No 1 goalkeeper for several years, now has competition with the addition of national team veteran Nader El-Sayed.
Ajax Josephs tackled Mohamed Barakat in the 34th minute to give Ahli a penalty kick but the Ajax goalkeeper saved from Metab.
"I can't believe the performance," Manuel Jose, Ahli's Portuguese coach said, unwilling to hide his anger despite the win. "The players were too loose and did not do their tasks. I am very upset with the performance but I am satisfied with the result."
Ajax remain in second place in the group, two points ahead of Raja Casablanca of Morocco and Nigeria's Enyimba.
In the other Group A match, Raja Casablanca, although playing with 10 men, drew with title holders Enyimba 1-1.
Although Enyimba opened the scoring, Abdel-Latif Jrindou headed home the equaliser 10 minutes from time.
Enyimba, who have won the last two Champions League titles, are now at the bottom of Group A with just one point from three games. Another defeat for the Nigerian side on 7 August would make it impossible for them to reach the semi-finals.
Zamalek, the other Egyptian club in the tournament, drew 1-1 with Tunisia's Esperance in their Group B encounter in Cairo.
Surprisingly, Zamalek still top the group on goal difference with just three points from three games.
Zamalek drew first blood scoring through Mohamed Abdel-Wahed in the 35th minute but the visitors drew two minutes into added time in the first half by their captain Moein Shabani.
It is the second time for Zamalek to draw with a Tunisian club after a 1-1 tie against Etoile du Sahel.
Zamalek, 2002 Champions League winners, still maintain their record of not being beaten at home in African club competition for 29 years.
"I am satisfied with the score and I am confident that we will be able to win in Tunisia," Theo Bucker, Zamalek's German coach said.
Zamalek have been African champions a record five times and Esperance once. They meet again in Tunis on 7 August, a day after Etoile host ASEC in the Mediterranean town of Sousse.
Etoile du Sahel drew with ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast 1-1 draw in Group B in Abidjan.
In the Confederation Cup, Ismaili took home three valuable away points after beating FC 105 of Gabon 1-0 in their first round match of the quarter-final round. Omar Gamal snatch the lone goal in the 49th.
The win placed Ismaili in second place in Group B with three points. "I am satisfied with the result and we have already started preparing for the coming match against Nigeria's Dolphin on 5 August in Mehalla," Ismaili's coach Emad Suleiman said.
The Arab Contractors, also in Group B, lost 2-1 in Nigeria against the Dolphin. The Dolphin struck first in the ninth minute but Amir Salah equalised in the 17th minute before Dolphin got the winner deep in extra time.
Ghanem Sultan, the Arab Contractors coach said, "We did our best but it was a difficult match. Heavy rains were an obstacle that prevented the complete control on the ball."