Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1256, (30 July - 5 August 2015)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1256, (30 July - 5 August 2015)

Ahram Weekly

First place here and there

Ahly and Zamalek top their groups in the Confederation Cup while Smouha lose in the Champions League, reports Abeer Anwar

Al-Ahram Weekly

An early goal from superstar Walid Suleiman, only six minutes after the start, was enough for Egyptian powerhouse Ahly to top Group A in the African Confederation Cup third round, leaping ahead of Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel following their encounter played at Suez’s Army Stadium on Saturday.

The Red Devils kept their unbeaten run alive as well as their hopes of reaching the semi-final of the competition in which they are defending champions.

Ahly now have seven points from three games midway in the group stage, one more than Etoile, who rank second with six points while Stade Malien are in third place with one point.

Ahly controlled the first half but both teams were on equal footing in the second, failing to create real chances.

Ahly coach’s Fathi Mabrouk was satisfied with his team’s victory. “It was a very important win as it gave us back the group lead. I thank the players for their effort in the whole game. They are very tired because we have a very tight schedule full of matches.”

Etoile du Sahel coach Faouzi Benzarti blamed missing key players for the defeat, but admitted that Ahly had the upper hand.

“The Egyptian league is still ongoing, unlike in Tunisia. There are technical and physical differences since we don’t play official games and only prepare by playing friendlies,” the 65-year-old head coach explained.”We still have a chance back home where we will be backed by our fans and we will be more dangerous,” Benzarti said.

In the same tournament at the same stage, wounded Egyptian giants Zamalek, which lost their derby to arch-rivals Ahly 2-0 earlier in the week, somewhat made amends by topping their Group B with a perfect nine points after beating Congo’s AC Leopards  2-0 on Sunday at Petrosport Stadium in Cairo.

Zamalek’s two goals came from Bassem Morsi in just the second minute and Ayman Hefni who missed the Ahly clash due to a flu that sent him to hospital. Hefni scored a penalty against Leopards in the 35th minute.

“There was much importance placed upon the Leopards game, given that it was the first test following the defeat by Ahly,” Zamalek’s coach Ismail Youssef said.

“We knew that it won’t be an easy game. Leopards are a strong opponent but we were determined to win to please our fans, especially that a win meant topping our group.”

One-time Confederation Cup champions Leopards are currently third of the group with one point, following a 1-0 home defeat by Orlando Pirates and an away draw with Tunisia’s Sfaxien.

Esperance suffered their third successive loss after visiting Stade Malien handed them a 2-1 defeat in their Group A encounter on Saturday in Rades, near Tunis. The result keeps Esperance at the bottom of the standings and leaves their ambitions of a place in the last four hanging by a thread.  

After three games, the two-time African champions are left at the bottom of the group without a point.

Halfway into the African Champions League group stage, Smouha of Egypt were handed their second successive defeat following a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of TP Mazembe at Alexandria Stadium on Friday.

TP Mazembe’s two goals came through from Rainford Kalaba and Daniel Nii Adjei, taking Smouha – the sole Egyptian representative in the Champions League this season – farther down.

The defeat was Smouha’s second in their debut campaign. They now lie third in Group A on three points. It was the first defeat under their new coach Mohamed Youssef who led his previous club Ahly to a number of titles. Smouha’s mission is mission impossible after two losses from three games.

In Group B in the same championship, Algeria’s ES Setif drew 1-1 with Sudan’s El Merreikh of Sudan on Saturday in Setif.

Setif are now tied on four points with Merreikh, five behind run-away leaders USM Alger.

The third Algerian side in the group, MC Eulma, rest at the depth of the standings, pointless.

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