Berliner Tageblatt - Early own-goal gives Ahly 12th CAF Champions League title

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Early own-goal gives Ahly 12th CAF Champions League title
Early own-goal gives Ahly 12th CAF Champions League title / Photo: © AFP

Early own-goal gives Ahly 12th CAF Champions League title

An early own-goal by Roger Aholou gave Al Ahly of Egypt a tense 1-0 win over Esperance of Tunisia in Cairo on Saturday, and a record-extending 12th CAF Champions League title.

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Ahly triumphed 1-0 on aggregate after a goalless first leg of the final to win back-to-back titles in the elite African club competition for a fourth time.

They also became only the third team to win the Champions League with an unbeaten record having won nine and drawn five of 14 qualifying, group and knockout matches

Victory for Ahly completed a double for Cairo clubs as arch rivals Zamalek won the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup last weekend.

Ahly coach Marcel Koller made one enforced change from the first leg with Karim Fouad replacing Ali Maaloul, who went off injured after only seven minutes in Tunisia last weekend.

Goalkeeper Mostafa Shobeir, who had not conceded in eight matches ahead of the second leg after replacing injured captain Mohamed el Shenawy during the group stage, retained his place.

Esperance coach Miguel Cardoso, seeking the first trophy of his managerial career that included spells in his native Portugal, France, Spain and Greece, chose an unchanged side.

Goalkeeper Amanallah Memmiche, who had kept 12 clean sheets in 13 previous Champions League matches this season, had to pick the ball out of the net after just four minutes in Cairo.

- Lucky Esperance -

Ahly captain and centre-back Ramy Rabia headed a corner goalwards and the ball deflected off Esperance midfielder Aholou and into the corner of the net.

Roared on by a predominantly red-clad sell-out crowd in the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium, Ahly threatened to overwhelm Esperance with relentless attacks.

Wessam Abou Ali fired narrowly wide, South African Percy Tau hit the side netting with a fierce drive and Memmiche parried a goal-bound shot away to foil Hussein el Shahat.

A poor free-kick at the other end by Yan Sasse -- one of two Brazilians in the Esperance line-up -- summed up a first half which ended with the Tunis outfit lucky to be just one goal behind.

Ahly were less dominant as the second half unfolded and had a narrow escape just past the hour when a Sasse drive beat Shobeir only to finish off target.

The anxiety of Ahly, as they clung to a one-goal advantage on the night and on aggregate, became clear with 20 minutes left when Shobeir was warned by the Congolese referee for wasting time.

Koller introduced attackers Mohamed 'Afsha' Magdy and Mahmoud Kahraba 12 minutes from time as Ahly sought the second goal that would almost certainly kill off the Esperance challenge.

Magdy came close to scoring two minutes from time when his free-kick from just outside the area rebounded off the crossbar with Memmiche beaten.

H.Seidel--BTB