Ahly lose 1-0 to Tanzania's Simba in their second group-stage game of the African Champions League (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Title holders and record nine-time winners Ahly suffered a shock 1-0 loss at Tanzania's Simba in their second group-stage game of the African Champions League on Tuesday, with their unfancied opponents stealing the show with an intricate passing game.
Ahly, who usually overwhelm opponents with their attractive brand of attacking football, were uncharacteristically feeble and a lively Simba side took full advantage to secure a famous victory, thanks to a first-half piledriver from midfielder Luis Miquissone.
The Red Devils struggled to carve out openings at the vibrant Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam, apart from a solitary goal-scoring chance towards the end, as Simba made the most of the support of around 30,000 fans.
The hosts ran out deserved winners, recording their second victory Ahly in two years at the same stage.
Ahly slumped to only their second loss under South African coach Pitso Mosimane, whose unbeaten run in charge of the team came to an end when they lost to European champions Bayern Munich in the Club World Cup semi-final early this month.
Simba moved top of Group A with maximum six points, three ahead of Ahly and DR Congo's AS Vita Club. Sudan's Al-Merrikh lie at the bottom with no points after suffering two defeats.
Mosimane opted for a cautious approach, fielding three defensive-minded midfielders and relegating creative playmaker Magdi Afsha to the bench.
The strategy looked to have backfired as Simba took the game to Ahly from the very beginning, wasting their first chance as early as the sixth minute when Hassan Dilunga was thwarted by El-Shennawi after racing clear on the left hand side of the area.
Lacking the spark and vision of Afsha, Ahly found it hard to impose their style at the other end, creating a single half-chance when a volley from forward Mahmoud Kahraba went over the bar.
Simba went ahead on 31 minutes in superb fashion, Miquissone turning and unleashing a thunderbolt in off the bar after an attempted one-two on the edge of the area was intercepted by Ahly's Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng before falling to his path.
Simba could have doubled their advantage on two occasions before the break had it not been for two superb saves from El-Shennawi, including diving to his right to push away a goal-bound angled shot from Mutshimba Mugalu four minutes before halftime.
Simba were not as adventurous in the second half, but they still kept the ball in their possession for long, displaying a neat passing game that Ahly struggled to match.
The introduction of Afsha, central midfielder Amr El-Sulaya and winger Mohamed Sherif injected some zeal towards the end as Ahly pressed for a winner.
Simba keeper Aishi Manula denied a certain goal from Sherif in stoppage time as Simba held out for a precious win.
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