Egyptian giants Ahly breathed a sigh of relief after securing a precious 1-0 victory at Botswana's Township Rollers in the African Champions League on Saturday, saying they had to overcome "difficult circumstances" to edge closer to a place in the last eight.
A muddy pitch meant both sides were restricted to some tame efforts until Ahly's Malian defender Salif Coulibaly made the difference with an 81st-minute goal as the team secured their second win over Township in the space of 11 days.
Ahly had a goal disallowed in the first half when the referee adjudged winger Walid Soliman to have fouled Township's keeper before Walid Azaro chipped the ball into an empty net. They also lost Nigerian winger Junior Ajayi to injury before the break.
"We played amid difficult circumstances today because of the referee and the poor state of the pitch, in addition to the bad treatment we got from Township, who violated CAF's regulations," said Ahly's assistant coach Mohamed Youssef, referring to some logistical problems in Botswana.
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.
"Our win today and the three points we got put us in a very good position to advance to the next round," Youssef added.
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