Saturday,25 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1434, (14 - 20 March 2019)
Saturday,25 May, 2019
Issue 1434, (14 - 20 March 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Down to the wire

With one game left apiece for Ahly and Zamalek in the group stage, the Egyptian powerhouses are headed for dramatic endings in their respective African inter-club tournaments, reports Inas Mazhar


photo: Essam Shoukri
photo: Essam Shoukri

Zamalek were the most successful of Egyptian football clubs in Africa this week, displaying a brilliant home performance for a 4-0 victory over Gor Mahia of Kenya in the CAF Confederations Cup. In the Champions League but away from home, Ahly lost 1-0 to Vita Club of the Congo in the fifth round of the group stage.

Ismaili played to a 1-1 draw with TP Mazembe of Congo in the Champions League but were eliminated nonetheless.

Egyptian giants Zamalek are on the way to a remarkable turnaround after their huge 4-0 win over Gor Mahia took them top of Group D. The White Knights were without a win after three matches including a shock 4-2 loss to Gor in Nairobi. They headed into the penultimate round of games bottom of the table, but had some hopes of moving top after Petro Atletico beat hitherto leaders Nasr Athletic Hussein Dey 2-0 in the other group match in Luanda.
In front of more than 5,000 fans, Mahmoud Alaa and Youssef Obama scored in the first half with Ferjani Sassi and Omar Al-Said firing two more goals late in the second to seal the victory, which pushed Zamalek to the top of the group on eight points. Petro are second on seven points, the same as third place Hussein Dey who have an inferior goal difference. Gor Mahia fell to the bottom of the group with six points.

“Today, we did great work and we deserved to win,” Zamalek’s Head Coach Christian Gross told Al-Ahram Weekly after the match. “I am really satisfied with the result and performance. Still, nothing is so far decided because we still have one more match in the group. We won and the result created suspense in the group.

“Now we have to focus on the next game against Hussein Dey in Algeria because as I said before, nothing is decided yet. But, I expect it to be a tough game because the result is very important. Hussein Dey wants to win that game as well and after meeting them here at home in the first leg match, I can say that the level of this team shows that we were even and that there was a lot of suspense all through the match so nothing is taken for granted until now. All we need to do now is to prepare for this game the best way we can,” he added.

Gor Mahia Head Coach Hassan Aktay said that he was disappointed with the performance and the result. “Unfortunately we didn’t play well and Zamalek today deserved to win the three points. Before the game, we knew it will not be an easy match despite beating them at home 4-2 in the first leg game. But once here in Cairo, we knew we were playing a big and experienced team like Zamalek who have a record of five African titles. Today, they played very well and deserved winning. It was a fair game. We have one game to play in Nairobi against Petro Atletico and hopefully we win our three points and qualify to the quarter-finals,” Aktay told the Weekly.

As they prepare for the final round of the group stages, a draw would confirm Zamalek’s progress to the quarter-finals when they meet Hussein Dey in Algiers next week and that result could work in favour of Gor Mahia if they score a win over Petro Atletico when they take on the Angolans at home in Nairobi.

In the Champions League, Ismaili of Egypt came from behind to draw 1-1 with five-time African champions TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ismaili, who were reinstated, after an appeal, to the Champions League after being banned over crowd trouble, fell behind on 40 minutes when Elia Meschak opened the score for visitors Mazembe in Borg Al-Arab Stadium in Alexandria. Ten minutes into the second half, Abdel-Rahman Magdi scored his first Champions League goal since early December to level the score. Ismaili is yet to play their last game in the group against Club Africain of Tunisia at Rades Stadium in Tunis on 16 March but it doesn’t matter. Ismaili are out of the tournament. They are at the bottom of their Group C with only two points from two draws, three losses and no wins. Club Sportif Constantiniois lead the group with 10 points, TP Mazembe came next with eight points, followed by Club Africain in third place with seven points.

In Kinshasa, AS Vita Club waited until the final minutes to score a precious goal for a 1-0 win over Ahly thanks to Tuisila Kisinda. According to CAF’S official Website, the winner was rewarded by the Congolese team’s incessant attacks, which fired 27 shots on goal in this match. That important victory levelled the group points of both teams to seven each. The Congolese club are now to face Simba on 16 March in Tanzania on the last match day of the group stages while Ahly are to face Jeunesse Sportive Saoura in the final match at Borg Al-Arab Stadium on the same day.

JS Saoura of Algeria lead this Group D with eight points, followed by Ahly and AS Vita Club in second and third respectively with seven points, while Simba of Tanzania comes last with six points.

CAF sends condolences

FORMER secretary-general of the Kenyan National Federation and high-ranking football official Hussein Swaleh Mtetu was among the 32 Kenyans who perished 10 March in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 that was on its way from Addis Ababa.

Swaleh was reportedly returning home after serving as commissioner in a CAF Champions League match between Ismaili SC (Egypt) and TP Mazembe (Democratic Republic of Congo) who played on Friday in Alexandria.

President of the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad said “all the African football family send their condolences to our dearest Hussein Swaleh Mtetu’s family, his relatives and to the Kenyan Football Federation”.

Swaleh was appointed CAF match commissioner for 2018-2020. He was the secretary general of the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) when Kenya last played at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia 2004.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 to Nairobi crashed early on Sunday, killing 149 passengers and eight crew, having left Bole Airport in Addis Ababa at 8:38am (+3GMT), before losing contact with the control tower just a few minutes later at 8:44am.

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