Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1250, (11 - 17 June 2015)
Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Issue 1250, (11 - 17 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Red and white go together

Ahly and Zamalek advance to the group stage of the African Confederation Cup, reports Abeer Anwar

Al-Ahram Weekly

Title holders Ahly won 5-4 on aggregate against Tunisia’s Club Africain to reach the African Confederation Cup group stage on Sunday.

On the same day, Zamalek, another Egyptian powerhouse, won their second leg match to join arch rivals Ahly in the group stage of the Confederation Cup following a 3-1 home win over DR Congo’s Sanga Balende.

Ahly’s game was held in Rades, Tunisia. It went to penalty kicks after Africain won the game 2-1. They had lost 2-1 in their first leg in Suez.

 Africain went ahead in Rades when Zouheir Dhaouadi scored after only seven minutes.

Ahly coach Fathi Mabrouk introduced star Emad Meteb in the second half, replacing the ineffective Nigerian striker Peter Ebimobowe. Meteb returned the favour after scoring the tying goal on the hour mark.

With the final whistle approaching, Africain made the most of eight minutes in stoppage time with midfielder Nader Ghandri heading to level the aggregate to force penalties.

Both Africain’s Hamza Agrebi and Ahly’s Mohamed Naguib wasted their penalty kicks. Africain’s Seif Jaziri lost his shot as it was denied by the bar, allowing playmaker Ramadan Sobhi to score and send Ahly to the last eight with a 5-4 win.

Ahli were missing a number of players due to injury. Ahli’s goalkeeper Ikrami and Meteb also had to leave the game after picking up injuries. Ikrami was replaced by Ahmed Adel who was given the tough job in the penalty phase.

Tension increased between the two teams as time neared the end when Ahly’s right back Mohamed Hani, who replaced Meteb, and Africain’s Hichem Belkaroui were both sent off following an altercation near the touchline after Hani lunged at the Tunisian, leaving the two teams with 10 players each.

The Cairo giants will now play in the group stage along with Stade Malien of Mali and Tunisian duo Esperance and Etoile Sahel.

“I was very happy to join the match in the second leg and be able to score for my team although I was suffering from a bad injury,” Meteb said after the game. “But I had to cover up for the absence of my colleagues who were themselves injured”.

After the match, Khaled Abdel-Aziz, Egypt’s youth and sports minister sent his congratulations to Ahly for the victory thanking the players for their performance “and management that was behind the success”.

Meanwhile, Zamalek, or the White Knights, also advanced with a 3-1 win in Cairo after a 1-0 first leg defeat to Sanga.

Zamalek were in control from the very beginning but could not break the deadlock in the first half, losing a number of scoring chances.

Zamalek’s playmaker Ayman Hefni ended the deadlock after breaking through the Sanga Balende defence on 48 minutes when he netted home with his left foot, beating keeper Katembwe Kalambayi at the near post.

Versatile midfielder Omar Gaber added the second which was followed by Sanga’s first, Musema Ngowa’s long-range goal beating keeper Ahmed Al-Shennawi.

The 2-1 losing score at the time would have lifted Sanga to the group stage but substitute Khaled Qamar came to Zamalek’s rescue on 78 minutes when he fired home into an empty net.

Zamalek will now play in the same group as Tunisia’s Sfaxien, South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and AC Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I was very sure of the success of my players and we should have qualified after the first match but it was due to the referee’s wrong decisions that our victory was delayed,” Zamalek’s Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira said. “I am quite satisfied with the players’ performance but we have a long way to go and we have to concentrate more in the coming period.”

Ferreira was referring to three disallowed Zamalek goals in the first game.

Mortada Mansour, Zamalek’s club president, had this to say: “I had to intervene in the match and ask Hani Zada and other officials to talk to the players as I felt that they were arguing too much with the referee which is completely wrong.

“In addition, I asked that our match be played after that of Ahly to give a chance to the fans to cheer their favourite teams and to back each other in our African games. I hope we will have a chance to meet Ahly in the African championship.”

In other results, according to cafonline, Ghana’s Hearts of Oak failed to advance to the mini-league stage of the 2015 Orange CAF Confederation Cup following a 1-1 draw with Esperance De Tunis in the reverse fixture of the 1/8th round playoff on Saturday. The Tunisians thus qualify on 5-1 aggregate and reach the last eight of the second-tier continental club championship.

Elsewhere, AC Leopards of Congo squeezed through despite suffering a 3-1 loss against Nigerian campaigners Warri Wolves, advancing 4-3 on aggregate.

South Africa’s Orlando Pirates made a triumphant entry into the mini-league stage after a 4-1 thumping of AS Kaloum of Guinea in Johannesburg. The Buccaneers, as the Soweto-based club are nicknamed, progressed 6-1 on aggregate.

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