Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry still holds out hope for an African Champions League triumph in Tunisia although his side were held to a 1-1 home draw by holders Esperance in the first-leg of the competition’s final on Sunday.
A cautious Esperance side opened the scoring against the run of play when Walid Hichri headed home from a corner following a blunder from Ahly keeper Sherif Ekramy four minutes after the break.
Ahly wasted several goal-scoring opportunities but their pressure finally paid dividends with three minutes remaining when substitute El-Sayed Hamdi rifled home an unstoppable shot from inside the area.
“I’m satisfied with that draw, the match was very difficult so it felt like a win for us today,” El-Badry, who was in charge of Ahly when they were knocked out by Esperance in the Champions League semis in 2010, told the post-match news conference.
“The performance of Ahly players tonight was affected by the long football stoppage in Egypt. It was also difficult for us to arrange friendly games lately.”
Ahly will need to beat Esperance away from home in the second leg on 17 November or secure a higher-scoring draw than 1-1 to win their first Champions League title since 2008 and extend their record to seven continental triumphs.
Esperance, who are making their third consecutive appearance in the final, are eyeing their second title in a row.
“We will focus on correcting the mistakes we made during the coming two weeks,” El-Badry added.
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