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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Below-par Ahly suffer first group-stage defeat after stunning loss to Tanzanian Simba

Ahmad Hassan, Tuesday 12 Feb 2019
Ahly
Ahly crushed Simba 5-0 in Alexandria 10 days ago (File photo: Ahram)
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Egypt's Ahly suffered their first CAF Champions League group stage defeat after losing 1-0 to Tanzanian side Simba at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, with an error-ridden defensive display costing them dearly.

Only 10 days after their embarrassing 5-0 defeat in Alexandria, a spirited performance from Simba helped them take revenge as they managed to restrict Ahly to some tame efforts, preventing them from creating enough scoring chances.

Meddie Kagere volleyed the winner five minutes past the hour mark to spark wild celebrations among the sell-out crowd.

The conservative tactics of Ahly's Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte gave an impression that the team would have been happy to secure a point to maintain their lead on top of the group.

However, the Cairo giants' heavy fixture congestion seemed to have negatively affected the performance of the team, leading to an unexpected loss against minnows Simba.

Ahly still sit first in Group D on 7 points, but their lead over Simba was trimmed to one point. 

DR Congo's Vita Club, who are third on four points, take on Algerian JS Saoura (two points) later in the day.  

Different Simba

On a surface that seemed to be better than most of those Ahly play on in the local league, the team tried to apply early pressure on the Tanzanian side as right-back Mohamed Hani whipped in a cross in the first minute but it was brilliantly punched away by Simba's goalkeeper Aishi Salum Manula.

Ahly relatively controlled the early stages, winning a corner kick and a set piece from which left-back Ali Maaloul sent a cross that was easily cleared by the defence.

After 10 minutes, Simba started to assume more possession and had their first sight of the goal when they hit from the edge of the box but it was easily saved by goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.

Three minutes later, El-Shennawi parried away Kagere's close-range strike from a tight angle to a corner kick.

Serge Wawa's deflected shot from distance seemed to be going in shortly after as El-Shennawi just watched the ball finding its way to a corner kick.

Midway through the first half, Hussein Elshahat dribbled into the box and decided to hit from a difficult angle but his attempt went wide; one of Ahly's rare attempts in the first half.

Simba showed a different version from that of their humiliating loss to Ahly at Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, appearing solid and more organized as they were able to stop Ahly from causing them any real troubles.

The second half could not have started in a more thrilling way as Ahly's winger Elshahat found himself face to face with the goalkeeper after receiving a defence-splitting brilliant through pass from Junior Ajayi but he wasted the easy chance after he seemed unsure whether to strike from a close range or to dribble past the keeper.

Only three minutes later, Elshennawi thwarted a goal-bound shot from John Raphael Bocco.

Simba made amends five minutes past the hour mark as a long ball found Bocco who outjumped his marker to flick the ball to the unmarked Kagere, who sent a powerful volley into the top corner of the net.

Ahly hardly improved after falling behind despite pushing forward to equalize, with a cross that Ajayi failed to connect with being the only highlight.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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