Busy quarters

Alaa Abdel-Ghani , Tuesday 19 Apr 2022

Three Egyptian football teams had mixed fortunes at the start of the quarter-finals in Africa’s top club championships, reports Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Pyramids and TP Mazembe
Pyramids played to a scoreless draw against TP Mazembe of Congo in Cairo (photo: Mustafa Emeira)

Defending champions Ahly of Egypt nurse a slender 2-1 lead against Raja of Morocco in the African Champions League quarter-finals.

Ahly have won the tournament a record 10 times and are seeking to become the first club to win it three times in succession.

However, to keep alive their hopes of reaching the semi-finals, they must first get past Raja when the second leg takes place in Casablanca on Friday.

In Cairo, Ahly missed a bevy of chances to take a bigger lead against 10-man Raja, including a lost penalty.

In the second-tier Confederation Cup, Masry of Egypt take another slim 2-1 home win over another Moroccan side, RS Berkane, in the first leg quarter-finals despite Berkane playing with nine men for the last 25 minutes.

Masry will face Berkane away from home in the second leg on Sunday.

Berkane won the 2020 Confed title after beating Egypt’s FC Pyramids in the final.

Again in this week’s Confederation quarters, Pyramids fought to a goalless draw at home to DR Congo’s TP Mazembe in the first leg on Sunday.

Pyramids need to get by Mazembe, a five-time winner of the Champions League, in Lubumbashi in the second leg on Sunday if they are to finally get their hands on the cup.

Pyramids have gotten close to a Confederation ring, having reached the final in 2020 and the semi-final last year, and are now hoping it’s third time lucky.

The team is still being coached by Ehab Galal who last week was selected to replace Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz as Egypt’s new coach following the team’s failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Galal, 54, has experience coaching Egyptian Premier League clubs Maqassa and later Zamalek and Pyramids this season but has never been placed in the hot seat of international football.

It is not clear whether Galal will relinquish his Pyramids post and make the national team his full-time job or keep working on both tasks at the same time.

His national duties are coming soon: the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers will start at the end of May. He takes over a national side that reached this year’s AFCON final in Cameroon before going down to Senegal. Egypt are also a record seven-time winner of this tournament.

The draw for the AFCON qualifiers will be hosted by South Africa on 19 April. The actual tournament will be held next year in Cote d’Ivoire.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 21 April, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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