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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Egypt's Ahly reach Confederation Cup final for first time

Ahly continued their bid to become the first Egyptian side to win Africa's secondary club competition after beating Coton Sport of Cameroon 2-1 in Cairo on Sunday

Hatem Maher, Sunday 28 Sep 2014
Ahly v Coton Sport
Yedan of Egypt's Ahly scores a goal against Cameroon's Coton Sport during their Confederations Cup semi-final soccer match at Cairo stadium (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's Ahly were once again mediocre but they managed to get the job done, coming from behind to beat Cameroon's Coton Sport 2-1 and qualify for the African Confederation Cup final for the first time on Sunday.

Playing in an almost empty stadium in Cairo due to security concerns, Ahly surprisingly fell behind just before the quarter-hour mark when a mix-up between defender Saad Samir and keeper Sherif Ekramy gifted Joseph Kombous an opening goal that leveled the aggregate score.

Burkinabe attacking midfielder Moussa Yedan, who was given a rare starting berth under coach Spanish coach Juan Garrido, restored Ahly's aggregate advantage when he struck four minutes before the break following a superb individual effort.

Striker Amr Gamal made the game safe with a late and simple tap-in as Ahly continued their bid to become the first Egyptian side to win the Confederation Cup.

Africa's secondary club competition has eluded Egyptian outfits in its old and new formats, with Ismaily going the closest when they reached the final in 2000 before losing to Algeria's JS Kabylie.

Ahly were demoted to the Confederation Cup after they were eliminated in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League, Africa's elite competition which they had won a record eight times.

They will face Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport in the final after the latter defeated Congo's AC Leopards 1-0 on aggregate to cap a fairytale run. The two teams met twice in the group stage, with Ahly claiming a 1-0 home win before settling for a 1-1 draw in the Ivory Coast.

Defensive blunders

Coton Sport took Ahly by surprise in the early stages of the game, exploiting some defensive blunders via some flowing moves, with one of them forcing a fine save from Sherif Ekramy from a Kamilou Daouda volley after four minutes.

They took the lead on 14 minutes when a seemingly harmless long ball caused mayhem in the Ahly area, with defender Samir and Ekramy colliding to leave Kombous with the simplest of tap-ins.

Ahly, lacking spark and imagination, were also hindered by repeated mis-placed passes in a slow build-up. They could only muster a couple of half-chances, with lone striker Amr Gamal sending a header wide and Walid Soliman missing the target with a blistering, long-range shot.

A moment of individual brilliance from Yedan in the 41st minute helped Ahly restore parity though.

He caught Manga Mbah napping to control a long ball on the left and cut inside unopposed, skipping past keeper Maxime Feudjou with nifty footwork to slot the ball into an unguarded net.

Chances were at a premium in a slow-paced second half, with winger Soliman, who scored the only goal in the first leg, providing the only moments of flair in an otherwise dull affair.

Soliman's arrowed free-kick struck the post on 58 minutes and a carbon-copy effort with 12 minutes remaining was pushed by Feudjou onto the other post but this time Gamal was on hand to tuck away the rebound as Ahly put the result beyond doubt.

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