Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1291, (14 - 20 April 2016)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1291, (14 - 20 April 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Can’t be beat

In the African Champions League Ahly draw away while Zamalek win at home, reports Marawan Zayed

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Both Ahly and Zamalek managed to achieve positive results in the African Champions League. Ahly drew away from home with Young Africans of Tanzania in a game that ended 1-1 in Tanzania while Zamalek defeated Algerian side Bejaia 2-0 at home.

On Saturday, Ahly played first in the pair of first leg round 16 matches. They faced a strong Young Africans side away from home but in fact the Egyptian side could have won the game and sealed qualification to the group stage after taking the lead through Amr Gamal’s close range header after a great assist from Mo’men Zakaria in the 11th minute. However, a hugely unfortunate own goal by Egypt’s star defender Ahmed Higazi levelled the scored in the 19th minute.

The Egyptian giants were definitely the better side for the rest of the game and came close to winning on more than one occasion but couldn’t turn their chances into goals to leave Tanzania with what is still considered a very good result given the importance of scoring an away goal against a very strong Young African side that is extremely difficult to beat at home.

It was the first time Ahly scored away from home in round 16 of the competition since 2009 which makes the draw even more valuable. New Dutch coach Martin Jol in particular will be happy with the result as he’s still getting used to the playing conditions and poor pitches in African football and will certainly be delighted in having avoided defeat even though he’ll believe that his team could have killed off the tie in Tanzania.

Another positive note is Gamal’s recent good form as he scored yet another and is currently outshining the club’s main striker Malik Evouna.

The result in Tanzania means a goalless draw or a win by any result for Ahly in Cairo will seal qualification to the group stage.

Still in the African Champions League, Zamalek put one foot in the group stage as they defeated Algerian side Bejaia 2-0 at home thanks to goals from talisman Mahmoud Kahraba and Ahmed Hamoudi in the second half. First, it was Kahraba who broke the deadlock in the 58th minute when he scored on his second attempt as the keeper saved his initial shot after a brilliant pass from Ayman Hefni sent him clear on goal.  Substitute Hamoudi put the icing on the cake as his powerful first time shot from Hazem Emam’s cross sealed the win for the White Knights who will travel to Algeria full of confidence after avoiding conceding at home.

The Egyptian side struggled in the first half and couldn’t really threaten the Algerian goalkeeper but the second half was a completely different story. Prior to scoring the first goal, Zamalek came close to scoring on two occasions through Kahraba and Hefni before both players combined in the 58th minute to give their side the lead. Kahraba left the field injured in the 74th minute and his substitute Hamoudi managed to seal the valuable win thanks to his brilliant first time shot that left the goalkeeper stranded in his place.

The final 10 minutes witnessed some ugly scenes as the players of both teams clashed on several occasions, even after the game.

Fans were allowed to attend the game for the first time since last year for security reasons. It is fair to say that the impact of the supporters could not have been any better as they pushed Zamalek admirably throughout the 90 minutes.

Spectators have been banned in Egyptian stadiums since February 2012 when 72 mostly Ahly fans were killed during a regular season league game in Port Said.

In February 2015, the ban was partially lifted but immediately re-imposed after 20 Zamalek fans died in a stampede as fans lined up to watch a league game at Cairo Air Defence Stadium.

Fans aside, let’s hope Ahly and Zamalek manage to seal their qualification to the group stage with ease in their second leg after the good results in the first leg.

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