Ahly winger Junior Ajayi vying for the ball with Al-Faisaly defenders (Photo: Ahram)
Ahly failed to overcome a resilient Al-Faisaly side once again, this time slumping to a 2-1 semi-final defeat to the Jordanians at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium to wave the Arab Championship goodbye on Wednesday.
Al-Faisaly took a 2-0 first-half lead via a header from Senegalese forward Dominique Mendy and an own-goal from veteran defender Ahmed Fathi, who played as a center-back, in the space of just 10 minutes.
Moroccan striker Walid Azaro bagged the consolation goal in the last minute of stoppage time after Ahly had wasted a slew of chances to get back into the game.
The defeat marked the second loss for Ahly in the Arab competition, which curiously came against Al-Faisaly in both occasion, with the Jordanians prevailing 1-0 in the Group A opener.
After missing out on the Arab Championship title, Egyptian league champions Ahly still have the Egypt Cup and the CAF Champions League to vie for, with an anticipated two-legged clash with Tunisia's Esperance taking place this month.
Two goals in 10 minutes
The first half kicked off with Al-Faisaly looking to give Ahly possession of the ball while organizing themselves in the center of the pitch.
And with Ahly controlling in the early stages, winger Ahmed Hamoudi came close to scoring in the third minute but was denied by keeper Moataz Yassen after being set up by lone striker Azaro.
The Jordanians’ efforts were not only limited to disrupting Ahly’s play inside their own half, but on the contrary, have shown fine glimpses of possession whenever they won the ball.
Then came the opener after Ahly left-back Ali Maaloul was easily tricked by Oday Zahran, who played a diagonal cross towards Mendy as the latter headed past keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi between two defenders.
With Ahly chasing the game in search for an equalizer, Fathi was guilty of an own-goal after Lukasz Gikiewicz capitalized on the space left behind left-back Maaloul before seeing his attempted square pass deflected off the Egypt defender into his own net.
Eight minutes after the break, striker Azaro saw a well-guided header kept away by keeper Yaseen with Ahly now starting to pile up the pressure on their opponents.
Substitute Abdallah El-Said, who came in for the unimpressive Hamoudi, had a powerful low strike narrowly miss the target in the 62nd minute following a cut-back from Saleh Gomaa.
Just a minute later, Gomaa was totally unlucky to see a strike from the edge of the area hit the woodwork before keeper Yaseen came to thwart Azaro this time in the 73rd minute.
With Ahly missing a myriad of chances, Al-Faisaly’s Akram Zuway could have made it three when his header bounced off the bar following a corner kick in what was the Jordanian side most dangerous chance of the second half.
After bringing on Ahmed El-Sheikh, whose one-year loan with Maqassa had ended, and El-Said, Ahly manager Hossam El-Badry introduced newcomer Islam Mohareb instead of right-back Mohamed Hani.
Ahly laid siege to Al-Faisaly’s area in the final minutes of the game and indeed managed to score through Azaro on the rebound in the eighth minute of stoppage time but it was too little too late as Ahly waved the Arab Championship goodbye.
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