Ahly right-back Bassem Ali (Photo: Reuters)
Ahly's right-back Bassem Ali hailed the team spirit after his side scored at the death to claim the Confederation Cup title at the expense of Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport on Saturday.
"We had lots of injuries, absences and suspensions to the extent that our squad never had more than 16 players during the past encounters. Even tonight, some of the players on the pitch weren't fully fit for the game," he told a TV football show after the game.
Emad Meteb headed home six minutes into stoppage time as Ahly won the only continental title missing in their trophy-laden cabinet virtue of the away-goal rule following a 2-2 aggregate draw.
Coach Juan Carlos Garrido had only 16 men available for the final game. The Spaniard had to field Hossam Ghaly, Sherif Abdel-Fadil and Sabri Rahil who haven't been training regularly in the past few days due to injuries in addition to playmaker Abdallah El-Said, who came on as a second-half substitute to make his first appearance in seven months after a foot surgery.
"They were better physically but we had fighters on the pitch that grabbed the title. They had a lot of chances to kill off the game but, fortunately for us, they were wasteful and this made us battle until the last second.
"We won and that's what matters most. We hope this triumph will give us a big boost for the coming period," he concluded.
Tribue to fans
Center-half Saad Samir believes the main reason behind Ahly's win is the fans' support from the stands.
Ahly enjoyed the massive support of their ardent supporters, who packed most of the 70,000- seat Cairo Stadium although security officials initially said they would only allow 25,000 fans to attend the match.
"Ahly fans were a major reason behind the win today, we dedicate the win to them," Samir told BeIN Sports.
"The reason why we were tense tonight is our rush to score a goal and make all those fans happy. Technically, that left us at times exposed at the back because the midfielders poured forward in search of the winner.
"But winning that way gave the victory a special flavor, congratulations to Ahly and all of us."
Sewe Sport - who had a slight 2-1 first-leg advantage - seemed the most dangerous side especially in the first half that saw them miss some clear-cut chances including a ferocious shot that crashed off the crossbar.
The hosts improved after the interval and kept on pressing until veteran striker Meteb headed the winner in the 96th minute to give Ahly and Egypt their first Confederation Cup title.
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