Thursday,14 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1224, (4 - 10 December 2014)
Thursday,14 December, 2017
Issue 1224, (4 - 10 December 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Ahli have a date with history

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Al-Ahram Weekly

DESPITE losing 2-1 to Ivorian opponent Sewe Sport in Abidjan in the first leg of the 2014 Orange CAF Confederation Cup final, Ahli have a good chance of winning the second leg and the trophy, which would be a first for an Egyptian club, reports Abeer Anwar.

 Never has an Egyptian side won the African Confederation Cup but Ahli are hoping they will be the one.

This, despite losing the first leg 2-1 to Sewe Sport of Cote d’Ivoire. But the away goal rule will weigh heavily in Ahli’s favour in the return match in Cairo on Saturday 6 December in which a 1-0 win is enough to give Ahli the title.

Despite winning 18 African titles and one Afro-Asian Cup, achievements which have placed Ahli on top of the football globe as the club with the most international titles -- passing Italian giants AC Milan and Boca Juniors of Argentina -- one more championship belt will do Ahli no harm.

Ahli hold the record of most victories in the CAF Champions League, with eight, the CAF Super Cup six times and the CAF Cup Winners Cup four times. It is the Confederation Cup, Africa’s second-tier football club tournament, which has eluded them and all other Egyptian teams.

Sewe, too, have never won the Confederation but their short history in football presumes they have not collected much hardware of any kind.

It was Sewe Sport’s Christian Koffi Kouame who started the scoring from a penalty kick on the 22 nd minute but Mohamed Hassan known as ‘Trezeguet’ for his likeness and looks to the former French star, drew for the Red Devils on the 58 th minute. But it was through Sewes superstar and fan favourite Roger Assale that the winner came eight minutes before time to give Sewe Sport the game and the upper hand, at least for now.  

Assale has set his sights on the Orange CAF Confederation Cup title as a farewell gift to fans of the club, according to cafonline.com. The striker, named the Most Valuable Player at the end of the 2014 Ivorian season, will join DR Congo outfit TP Mazembe after the final, signing a five-year deal with the Lubumbashi-based club.

Ahli was not at full strength due to the absence of a number of its key players because of injury. Ahli travelled to Abidjan with only 17 players. Goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami and strikers Amr Gamal and  Mohamed Nagi Gedo were all absent due to injuries. In addition, the field in Abidjan was had uneven patches.

Ahli’s Spanish coach Juan Carlos Garrido is the first Spaniard to handle the Red Devils. “It would be a great honour for me to win an African trophy in my first year with the team,” Garrido said before the match.

“I came to Ahli to win titles, and the CAF Confederation Cup is an important one for us. I know Ahli has never won that trophy and this is a great motivation for us to win it this year. I think we still have a golden chance in Cairo and I am sure we will be able to win.”

Ahli have faced Sewe Sport twice this season in the group stage, managing a 1-1 draw in Abidjan before winning 1-0 in Cairo.

“We can never stop fighting, whatever the circumstances are,” Garrido told the press after the match.

Garrido won his first trophy with Ahli just two months after he took responsibility, beating arch rivals Zamalek on penalties to claim the Egyptian Super Cup in September.  

The winner of Saturday’s match will pocket $660,000 and will also face the winner of the Orange CAF Champions League in next year’s Orange CAF Super Cup.

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