New recruit Salif Coulibaly scored his first goal for Ahly to steer them to a late 1-0 victory at Botswana's Township Rollers in a scrappy African Champions League game that put them on the brink of qualification for the last eight on Saturday.
The towering Malian defender, who joined Ahly in the summer after his contract with TP Mazembe of the DR Congo expired, headed home with nine minutes remaining to settle a bore affair in his side's favour.
The precious yet unconvincing win put last year's runners-up within touching distance of a place in the quarter final as they eye a record-extending ninth Champions League triumph.
Ahly recorded two straight wins under new coach Patrice Carteron, crushing Township 3-0 at home before beating them again on the road.
They are second in the group with seven points, three behind leaders Esperance of Tunisia who have ensured their progress to the knockout stage. Uganda's Kampala City and Township have three points each with only two matches remaining.
Chances were few and far between in a cagey first half, with both sides struggling to string passes together on a muddy pitch.
The hosts sounded the first warning shot after 12 minutes when Lemponye Tshireletso's low effort narrowly missed the target from 22 yards.
But that was as close as they got as Township and Ahly laboured for the remainder of the first half. The visitors had a goal disallowed though when the referee adjudged winger Walid Soliman to have fouled Township's keeper before Walid Azaro chipped the ball into an empty net.
Ahly's Nigerian winger Junior Ajayi was stretchered off in the latter stages of the half after sustaining what looked a serious injury as the team were deprived of his much-needed creativity after the break.
The Red Devils barely troubled Township in a dull second half and could have even fallen behind six minutes past the hour mark had it not been for a brilliant save from Egypt keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who tipped over a fierce drive from the lively Tshireletso.
But Coulibaly made sure there will not be any upsets in Gaborone, towering above his marker to send a bullet header home following an inswinging corner from Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul in the 81st minute.
Islam Mohareb and Azaro missed two gilt-edged chances to double the lead in stoppage time but Ahly held on for a valuable win.
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