After being defeated by Gunners of Zimbabwe in the African Champions League, Ahli seek to overturn the deficit in the second leg, Ahmed Morsy reports
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Ahli's Wael Gomaa fights for the ball against Gunners of Zimbabwe in the African Champions League game
Title holders TP Mazembe began their defence of the Orange African Champions League title on a losing note while record holders Ahli of Egypt and ASEC Mimosas of Cote d'Ivoire also suffered losses away from home during the round of 32 in first leg matches.
Six-time African champions Ahli lost 1-0 to the Gunners of Zimbabwe on Saturday.
Despite the stunning defeat, Ahli head coach Hossam El-Badri said he was not worried about the prospect of exiting the Champions League at the first hurdle, a scene similar to that against Nigeria's Kano Pillars who beat Ahli in the round of 16 last year. Missing out on a place in the group stage for the second successive season looks a possibility but El-Badri is thinking positive.
"I'm not worried at all," El-Badri told Ahli's official website after the game.
"We are capable of making up the deficit in the second leg and qualifying for the next round. It was a naive mistake from the defenders that gifted Gunners a win," El-Badri added.
"Our strikers also failed to make use of the opportunities they had."
Ahli were missing midfielder and Egypt skipper Ahmed Hassan while playmaker Mohamed Abu Treika and attacking midfielder Mohamed Barakat started from the bench. Consequently, the Egyptian champions lacked creativity in the first half, barely creating goal scoring opportunities.
The Gunners had the upper hand, taking Ahli by surprise after playing a fluent and pacey game. They capitalised on some poor defending from the visitors to open the score after 23 minutes.
Ahli's right back Ahmed Ali miss-hit his kick when he tried to clear the danger to allow Gunners striker Norman Maroto to collect the ball and fire a low shot into the bottom corner to give the Gunners the lead.
El-Badri introduced Abu Treika and Barakat in the second half in a bid to increase the tempo and the attack against the Gunners but Ahli still found it difficult to bother the hosts.
Barakat wasted Ahli's best chance six minutes from time. He latched onto a long pass from Abu Treika to go one-on-one with keeper Tafadzwa Dube whose timely interception denied the mercurial midfielder from grabbing the equaliser.
Mustafa Shebeita thought he had scored the decisive goal when his shot deflected off Abu Treika and wrong-footed Dube but the referee adjudged Abu Treika offside.
"We really deserved to win this game," Gunners coach Darlington Dodo told the local media.
"The guys followed instructions and we were in control for much of the game. But Ahli are very tactical, and they have dangerous players like Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Abu Treika."
"We need to tighten up in the second leg. We will work on how we will try to contain them in their own backyard but I am happy with the lads' performance."
Ahli are to host the Gunners on 4 April in Cairo.
Mazembe lost by a lone goal in Kigali to Rwandan champions APR. Striker Albert Ngaboyisiko netted the winner as the Rwandan champions produced one of the major upsets in the history of the premier continental club championship.
ASEC Mimosas also suffered a 1-0 away loss to Zanaco of Zimbabwe. Makundila Sakala was the hero for Zanaco and scored the lonely goal.
The former continental champions must overturn the solitary losses in the second legs in a fortnight or bid farewell to continental club action as far as the year 2010 is concerned.
Elsewhere, Egypt's other flag bearer in the Champions League, Ismaili, cruised to a 3-1 win over USS Tamponnaise of Reunion at home also in the first leg of round 32. Ismaili left back Ahmed Samir Farag scored twice as Ismaili avoided another Egyptian upset on Saturday.
Ismaili's early pressure paid dividends when left wing back Farag opened the score after 17 minutes when he lifted a free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner past the motionless keeper.
Tamponnaise's Moroccan forward Mohamed El-Magadarhi levelled the score on 33 minutes to stun the home crowd when a cross found him unmarked at the far post to head home.
Mohamed Mohsen Abu Greisha made amends in the 71st minute to restore the hosts' advantage. Abu Greisha, who squandered some precious goal scoring opportunities earlier in the game, finally broke the visitors' resistance when his far post effort after a cross from substitute Abdoulaye Coulibaly bounced from the keeper's hand into the net.
Farag scored his second of the night with 10 minutes remaining to give Ismaili, who had several key players out due to injuries, a convincing first leg advantage. He wrapped up the victory on 80 minutes with a powerful low shot from the edge of the area.
Ismaili, who won the Champions League once, in 1970, felt the absence of Omar Gamal, Abdullah El-Said, Mohamed El-Sleiti and Ahmed Ali due to suspensions and injuries. However, they should all be fielded in the second leg match on 4 April.
"We must work very hard in the second leg to avoid any surprises," Ismaili coach Emad Suleiman said.
In the lesser lights, the African Confederation Cup round of 32 on Sunday, Egyptian outfit Petrojet eased to a 3-0 home win over Khartoum of Sudan. Eric Bekoe broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime with a tame close-range effort to give Petrojet the lead. Wing back Osama Mohamed doubled the lead after rifling a powerful shot from a sharp angle outside the area six minutes from the hour mark.
In the 60th minute, Cofie Bekoe completed the route when he latched onto a Mohamed Shaaban low cross to slot home with aplomb.
Petrojet are now close to securing a berth in the round of 16, as even a loss by a two-goal margin in the second leg in Sudan on 4 April would be enough for them to go through.
Haras Al-Hedoud, also of Egypt, drew 1-1 at Ethiopia's Banks in the same championship and same round.
Islam El-Shater put Haras Al-Hedoud ahead but saw his team's lead cancelled out. He hit the opener on 26 minutes but the hosts equalised three minutes from half-time.
The Former Ahli man received a straight red card after the interval for what the referee considered to be a vicious tackle.
A goalless draw in the second leg, which will be played early next month at Alexandria's Max Stadium, would be enough for Hedoud to go through.