Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1169, (24 - 30 October 2013)
Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Issue 1169, (24 - 30 October 2013)

Ahram Weekly

By a hair

Ahli edged Cameroon’s Coton de Sport 7-6 on penalties to qualify for the Orange CAF Champions League final. Abeer Anwar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Ahli players had a heavy psychological burden to carry before the match as they were seeking to restore the pride of Egyptian football after the crushing loss of the Egyptian national team 6-1 to Ghana in Africa’s 2014 World Cup qualifiers last week in Kumasi. The Egyptian team just about lost all hope of making it to the Mundial next year in Brazil and Ahli’s participation in the premier continental club championship was the sole source of consolation. Adding more to the difficult situation was that almost all the players in the Egypt-Ghana match were from Ahli so were suffering from the effects of the loss, considered the worst in Egyptian football history.
Ahli will meet South African club Orlando Pirates which reached the final of the Orange CAF Champions League after an 18-year absence by holding Esperance 1-1 in Tunisia. Esperance reached the last three finals, winning one, and were favoured to triumph at home against the 1995 champions Pirates.
Ahli and Pirates met twice during the group stage. Pirates shocked Ahli 3-0 in Cairo before tying 0-0 in the return leg.
Ahli’s goalkeeper Sherif  Ekrami was injured in the Ghana match but had no choice except to play his team’s match against Coton de Sport.
Mohamed Youssef , Ahli’s coach, was banned from coaching his team in the second leg after being penalized in the first leg match in Cameroon two weeks ago. His petition to the CAF federation allowed him only to attend the match as  a spectator sitting in the stands like one of the fans.
In spite of the obstacles, Ahli players attacked from the beginning and scored from an Abdullah Said header only for Coton to equalise in the second half. The 1-1 score was identical to that of Garoua  a fortnight ago.
In Sunday’s subsequent penalty shootout, Ahmed Fathi converted the decisive spot-kick as Jacques Haman blazed the next one over the bar.
Ahli’s star Mohamed Abu Treika had missed the opener. It was not until the eighth penalty kick that Ikrami blocked.
The Cameroonians lost to Ahli in the final of the 2008 edition.
Ahli and Pirates will meet at the beginning of November for the first leg to played in Cairo.
In the balance is a whopping $1.5 million prize-money for the winner and the ticket to represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco in December.

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