Sitting pretty

Alaa Abdel-Ghani , Tuesday 12 Dec 2023

Zamalek are top midway through the group stage of the African Confederation Cup, reports Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Zamalek vs Sagrada Esperanca of Angola
Zamalek vs Sagrada Esperanca of Angola

 

Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Sayed earned Egyptian powerhouse Zamalek a 1-0 home victory over Sagrada Esperanca of Angola on Saturday to preserve their perfect group stage record in the African Confederation Cup.

Zizo, arguably Egypt’s best domestic player, let fly from the right side from outside the box. His low shot squeezed past the goalkeeper, who should have done better, in the 42nd minute to break the deadlock at Cairo’s Al-Salam Stadium.

It proved enough to clinch a third straight victory for Zamalek and strengthen their hold on Group B.

The win leaves the five-time African champions three points clear of second-placed Abu Salim of Libya. Zamalek will face Sagrada again in the fourth round of the group stage games on 20 December.

Defeat compounded a disappointing start for Sagrada as they remain stuck on three points from three matches.

But Zamalek appear in pole position to progress to the Confederation Cup quarter-finals. After three games with three remaining, Zamalek have nine points, Abu Salim six, Sagrada three, and SOAR zero.

In Group A in the same competition, defending champions USM Alger also continued their perfect form, edging Egyptian side Modern Future 1-0 in Algeria on Sunday thanks to a 65th minute strike from outside the box by Abdoulaye Kanu from a solo run following a beautiful through pass from the defence that split the Future defence in two.

The result sees USM Alger retain the lead at the top with nine points, followed by Future with six, while Al-Hilal Benghazi are third with three points ahead of SuperSport United of South Africa who remain at the bottom with zero points.

Future and Alger will meet again in Cairo on 20 December in the fourth round of the group stage, as the race towards a place in the knockout stages continues across the continent.

In the more prestigious African Champions League, defending champions Ahly of Egypt tied 0-0 with CR Belouizdad of Algeria on Friday evening, the Egyptian club’s second consecutive draw in the group stage after three games.

Despite Friday’s draw at Alexandria’s Borg Al-Arab Stadium, Ahly remain top of Group D with five points from three games. Belouizdad and Ghanaian side Medeama have four each and Young Africans of Tanzania two.

Ahly started their defence of the Champions League title by defeating Medeama 3-0 at Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo before a 1-1 draw against Young Africans.

Ahly are due to play Belouizdad in Algeria in the return fixture on 19 December.  

Ahly are currently in Saudi Arabia participating in the FIFA Club World Cup, scheduled to take place in Jeddah from 12 to 22 December.

Ahly begin their campaign on 15 December against the winner of the opening match between hosts Ittihad Jeddah and New Zealand’s Auckland City FC.

The seven competing teams include Manchester City from England, Urawa Reds from Japan, Club Leon from Mexico and Fluminense FC of Brazil. The European champions Manchester City are considered the favourites for the prestigious trophy.

Ahly, representing Africa, will be making their eighth appearance in the Club World Cup after finishing in third place in 2006, 2020, and 2021. In the last edition, they finished fourth.

Returning to the Champions League, Egypt’s Pyramids FC held Mamelodi Sundowns to a scoreless draw in the third round of the group stage on Sunday in South Africa.

Pyramids FC played with 10 men in injury time after defender Osama Galal received a second yellow card.

In Group A, Sundowns, TP Mazembe of the DR Congo, Nouadhibou of Mauritania, and Pyramids all have four points each, but Pyramids are bottom with a minus one goal difference.

Pyramids will play Sundowns in Cairo on 19 December.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 14 December, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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