Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane after winning the final REUTERS
Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane admitted his team wasn't at their best but was thankful that they managed to make the most of their chances and claim a historic 2-1 Champions League win over arch-rivals Zamalek on Friday.
"I came here to win the African trophy but it was a very tough one. As we always say, finals are won not played," the South African boss said after the game.
"I have to say Zamalek coach made it very hard for us in the first half because he prevented us from playing our normal game.
Ahly grabbed a fifth-minute lead through Amr El Sulaya but were outplayed for most of the first half.
Zamalek winger Mahmoud Shikbala equalised with a superb solo goal on 31 minutes before Ahly playmaker Magdi Afsha netted a decisive winner with four minutes remaining to give Ahly a record-extending ninth Champions League title.
"Shikabala scored an amazing goal. I talked to my players at half time and told them that we need to improve. I made some changes in my tactics in the second half and asked the players to press Zamalek players more and more as I saw they were getting tired and losing form," he added.
"We needed to press their midfield and that's what gave us the second goal."
Afsha picked up a headed defensive clearance and sent an unstoppable volley into the far corner, giving Mosimane his second Champions League trophy after his maiden one also came against Zamalek while he was in charge of Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.
He became only the third boss to win the trophy with two teams after Argentine Oscar Fullone and Egyptian Mahmoud El-Gohary.
"I have to thank president Mahmoud El Khatib for giving me, an African coach, the chance to lead one of the greatest clubs in Africa," Mosimane said.
"I also want to thank the board, staff and players who gave me a great welcome to accomplish my job. Now we have to focus on the Egypt Cup, African Super Cup and Club World Cup."
The 56-year-old was appointed in October, succeeding Swiss coach Rene Weiler who implied that he was homesick. Mosimane led Ahly to an impressive 5-1 aggregate win over Wydad in the semis before delivering the title at Zamalek's expense.
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