Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1258, (13 - 19 August 2015)
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1258, (13 - 19 August 2015)

Ahram Weekly

African football fumble

All three Egyptian teams in the African football confederation qualifiers lost this week, making it harder – but not impossible – for an Egyptian team to proceed to the title. Abeer Anwar reviews the setbacks

Ahly
Ahly
Al-Ahram Weekly

Although Zamalek only needed a draw to guarantee an early semifinal spot in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup, the players let the game go and missed several golden chances against Congo’s Leopards, to lose 1-0 in the away game. Striker Tresor Mukendi scored the winner for the hosts in the 61st minute, while attempts by strikers Bassem Morsi and Mahmoud Kahraba failed to win or even draw the match.

By this defeat, Zamalek lost the top of Group B since South Africa’s Orlando Pirates also has nine points, but exceed by goal difference. This makes it harder on Zamalek because it needs to earn a point in the next two matches – a visit to Tunisia’s Sfaxien and a home game against Orlando Pirates.

Zamalek manager Jesualdo Ferreira made several changes during the game but his changes could not alter the outcome. “We were better, but we lost a number of opportunities at a win,” admitted team captain Hazem Emam after the match. Emam complained that the football pitch “was in a deplorable condition, which is the main reason why we were unable to score. Thank goodness no one was injured.” Nonetheless, he was confident Zamalek will snatch the remaining point to qualify for the semifinals. “Sfaxien has lost hope for qualifying,” he said. “It will be an easy match for us.”

Meanwhile, title holders Ahly lost to Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel 0-1 in a match played in Sousse, giving the latter a chance to top Group A. Striker Youssef Mouihbi scored the only goal through a dubious penalty in the first-half, to avenge his team for a similar loss in a previous match played in Suez two weeks ago.

The third win for Etoile raised their points to nine, two more than Ahly, which wants to defend is CAF title. Ahly was the first Egyptian team to win Africa’s secondary club competition after defeating Ivory Coast’s Sewe Sport in a two-legged final last year.

Ahly players gave the Tunisians a tough game but all their attacks did not finish in goals. Etoile players were not easy prey either, and continued attacking throughout the match. This was the first time in 11 matches that Etoile scored a home win against Ahly.

At 26 minutes, Baghdad Bounedjah was allegedly fouled by Mohamed Naguib in the critical penalty area. The foul was easily converted by Mouihbi into the goal that guaranteed the Tunisians’ three points. Minutes later, Ahly’s Emad Meteb had a good opportunity to draw but his low shot from a cross by teammate Ahmed Fathi was too wide. Ahly tried hard to equalise by introducing new recruit John Antwi from Ghana and Amr Gamal in the second half, but it was useless.

Ahly will visit Tunisia’s Esperance (0 points) and host Stade Malien (four points) in its final two matches.

Ahmed Ayoub, Ahly’s assistant coach, insisted that the result will not affect the team’s bid for a place in the cup semifinals. “This loss won’t affect the team’s progress to the semifinal,” Ayoub told reporters after the game. “I am confident Ahly players will secure a spot in the Esperance and Stade Malien games.”

Ayoub also offered his own analysis of the game against Etoile Sahel: “Ahly played a good game until the referee announced a penalty kick to the Tunisian side. The penalty kick forced players to attack Etoile Sahel, which exposed the defence lines.”

Finally, Smouha was kicked out of the competition after losing to TP Mazembe 0-1 in the fourth day of Group A matches on Saturday in Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mazembe’s Roger Assale scored a spectacular goal in the second half to propel his team to the top of the group with eight points, three more than Moghreb Tetouan of Morocco and Sudan’s Al-Hilal.

Smouha’s debut was disappointing after it suffered a third successive defeat and thus will remain at the bottom of its group with three points.

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