Ahly all alone

Alaa Abdel-Ghani , Tuesday 26 Apr 2022

The Cairo giants advanced to the semi-finals of the African Champions League but their Confederation Cup compatriots fell by the wayside, reports Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Ahly all alone

 

Defending champions Ahly of Egypt are into the semi-finals of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League where they will meet Algeria’s ES Setif.

However, in the TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup, there was no such luck for the two Egyptian sides Pyramids and Masri who were ousted in the quarter-finals.

The double collapse meant Ahly are the only Egyptian side left standing in Africa’s two most famous club football tournaments.

In the Champions League quarter-final second leg played in Morocco’s Mohamed V Stadium on Friday, Ahly held Raja Casablanca to a 1-1 tie, giving them a 3-2 aggregate win to advance to the semis.

Ahly had defeated their Moroccan counterparts 2-1 in the first leg at home on Saturday.

Ahly, who have won the Champions League a record 10 times, are seeking to become the first club to win the crown three times in succession.

They qualified for the semis for a record-extending 18th time.

Their semi-final opponents ES Setif stunned Tunisia’s Esperance with a 1-0 victory in Tunisia following a goalless draw in the first leg.

Ahly will meet Setif on 6 May and 13 May.

Wydad of Morocco and Petro de Luanda of Angola will contest the other Champions League semi-final on the same days.

The final will be played on 29 May at a venue to be determined.

Ahly’s South African coach Pitso Mosimane said Ahly deserved the win because they were “the better side” both times, but in truth the clubs were evenly pitted and the scorelines home and away do not suggest a wide gulf between the teams.

Ahly might face a sterner test against Setif as Algerian clubs and nation have historically posed big headaches for North African rivals the Egyptians.

In the second tier Confederation Cup, TP Mazembe booked their ticket to the semi-finals after beating Pyramids FC 2-0 in Lubumbashi on Saturday in the return tie.

Mazembe of the DR Congo went through 2-0 on aggregate after the first leg in Cairo over the weekend ended 0-0.

Mazembe, winners of the Confederation Cup in 2016 and 2017, are now on course to win the title three consecutive times.

Pyramids had hoped to go a step further in the tournament, having reached the final in the 2020 and the semis last year.

Instead, they bowed out earlier than usual. It was also an inconspicuous end to the tenure of coach Ehab Galal who is now off to an inauspicious start as the new head of Egypt’s national team. Galal took over from veteran Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz who was forced to leave after Egypt failed to reach this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Also in the Confed, Morocco’s RS Berkane were aided by the away goals rule as they edged Masri 1-0 to make another appearance in the semi-finals.

Berkane were winners of the tournament in 2020 but had lost the first leg to Masri 2-1. The Moroccans advanced on the away goals rule which in Africa, as opposed to Europe, is still in effect.

Berkane will now play Mazembe in the semis.

Ahly Tripoli clash with Orlando Pirates of South Africa in the other semi-final.

The two games are scheduled for 8 May and 15 May.

The final will be played on 22 May at a venue to be announced.

 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 28 April, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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