Tuesday,20 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1337, (23 - 29 March 2017)
Tuesday,20 November, 2018
Issue 1337, (23 - 29 March 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Losing but still winning

Despite three losses, Egypt’s football teams advanced in Africa’s two premier club championships

Zamalek player tackling with the ball against their African competitors
Zamalek player tackling with the ball against their African competitors

Three Egyptian teams lost their second-leg matches in their African football club contenders but still qualified on aggregate. A fourth made it after the opponent was banned altogether.

Egyptian football club Smouha booked their place in the CAF Confederation Cup’s second round qualifiers after beating Ulinzi Stars of Kenya 4-3 on aggregate despite losing 3-0 away from home.

The Alexandria-based club opened their Confederation Cup campaign with a comfortable 4-0 first leg victory over Ulinzi Stars in the competition’s round of 32 at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium last week under former Zamalek coach Moemen Suleiman. They almost lost the aggregate after losing in Kenya after goals by Evans Amwaka, Samuel Onyango and Omar Mbongi.

Masri, Egypt’s other representative in the same competition, were lucky to secure a place in the next round after their game against Malian side Djoliba was canceled when FIFA suspended the Malian Football Association with immediate effect after the country’s government interfered in the national association.

In the Champions League, Ahly of Egypt played to a goalless draw against South Africa’s Bidvest Wits away from home to qualify for the group stage with an aggregate 1-0 victory. Ahly had edged Bidvest 1-0 in Cairo before a scoreless away draw.

Ahly parked the bus, keeping their net clean. Striker Amr Gamal’s early penalty shout, which was turned down by the referee, did not dampen the players’ spirits.

Bidvest could have scored but for Ahly’s heroic keeper Sherif Ekrami.

Ahly came close to scoring in the second half through Gamal which did not materialise but still they managed to qualify for the last 16.

Ahly’s boss Hossam Al-Badri thanked his players for their performance. “The game was very tough but we managed to achieve our target,” Al-Badri told a TV show after the game. “I thank the players for their efforts during the game.”

He charged the match referee with turning down a clear penalty for his team in the first half. “We had a chance to make the game easier but the referee ignored a clear penalty. In the second half, we intensified our presence in the midfield to control the game and we reached our target,’’ Al-Badri said.

On the other hand, five-time African champions TP Mazembe failed to reach the Champions League group stages after a frustrating goalless draw with CAPS United of Zimbabwe in Harare to exit the continental competition on the away goal rule after a 1-1 draw on aggregate. The Congolese side were held to a 1-1 draw at home in the first-leg one week earlier.

Kedus Giorgis of Ethiopia and Sudanese side Al Hilal sealed a place in the competition’s next phase at the expense of Leopards de Dolisie (Congo) and Port Louis (Mauritius) respectively. Also, Mamelodi Sundowns, Cotonsport, Zanaco, Wydad de Casablanca, USM Alger, Al Merrikh, Ahli Tripoli, and Vita Club have already secured a place in the round of 16.

Although Egypt’s Zamalek lost 2-1 to Nigerian champions Rangers of Enugu, they qualified 5-3 on aggregate to go on to round 16. The 2-1 win in Enugu was not enough for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ who suffered a 4-1 loss in the first leg in Cairo last week.

Nigerian Tope Olusesi gave Enugu the lead towards the end of the first half but Bassem Morsi equalised on the 71st minute. Godwin Aguda added the second towards the end of the game.

Head coach of the Nigeria champions, Imama Amapakabo, expressed disappointment over his team’s failure to make the round of 16.

“It’s very unfortunate we are out of the CAF Champions league. My boys missed a lot of chances but that is football for you. The most important thing is that we still have a chance to play in the CAF Confederation Cup. We will go back to the drawing board to make sure we get it right in our next CAF game,”Amapakabo told cafonline.com.

In other news, Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey has been banned for life by FIFA for what it called “match manipulation”.

The ban results from a penalty he awarded to South Africa in a 2-1 win over Senegal in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in November. He penalised Kalidou Koulibaly for handball but replays showed the ball hit his knee.

The win for South Africa left them in second place in the four-team group after two matches, with Senegal in third.

The Senegal Football Federation (FSF), who complained to FIFA over Lamptey, is happy with the decision. “Today there are many reasons to be happy about this decision, a decision that will be remembered as being significant but will also warn everybody that they are being watched,” FSF vice-president Abdoulaye Sow told BBC Sport. “All cheating and stealing will be punished according to its gravity.”

Lamptey, who also officiated at the Rio Olympics last year, declined comment.

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