Lackluster Ahly through to Confed Cup semis after draw with Etoile

Hatem Maher, Saturday 23 Aug 2014

Ahly put on a disappointing show at Cairo Stadium but do enough to reach the Confederation Cup semis after a 0-0 draw at home to Tunisia's Etoile Sahel


Ahly continued their bid to become the first Egyptian side to win the African Confederation Cup after surviving some Tunisian scares on Saturday to qualify for the competition's semis following a goalless draw at home to Etoile Sahel.

A lackluster show at an empty Cairo Stadium almost saw Etoile snatch a valuable win which they desperately needed to stand a chance of going through but Ahly were lucky to escape with a point that was enough to lift them to the semi-final. Nkana finished with seven points, one ahead of bottom side Etoile.

The Red Devils remained on top of Group B with nine points, finishing ahead of Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport, who crushed Nkana of Zambia 3-0, due their better head-to-head record.

They are the first Egyptian side to book a last-four berth at Africa's secondary club competition since ENPPI qualified for the semis in 2009 before losing to Stade Malien.

Ahly, who will learn their semi-final opponent on Sunday, were once again lethargic, with their mediocre display allowing Etoile to gain the upper hand.

Etoile massed their ranks at the back and relied on some long balls behind Ahly's sluggish defensive duo Mohamed Naguib and Mohamed Samir, launching some dangerous breakaways that they failed to take advantage of.

Ahly's shy attempts hardly troubled the visitors, with new signing Mohamed Farouk and winger Walid Soliman, who has returned to action recently after a lengthy lay-off, struggling to make their presence felt behind lone striker Emad Meteb.

However, the Red Devils were almost gifted a fortuitous goal after 10 minutes when Ghazi Abderrazak headed past his own goalkeeper but the ball narrowly missed the target.

Etoile forward Baghdad Bounedjah had two clear-cut chances to break the deadlock but he dithered on the ball when he was sent clean through on goal.

They could have made amends in the second half, going close with a volley that went just over the bar and a shot from Kaddour Beljelaili that was tipped over by Ahly keeper Sherif Ekramy.

Etoile played the last 10 minutes with 10 men after Franck Kom was dismissed for a reckless challenge on substitute Amr Gamal and an Ahly side that lacked creativity and imagination scraped through with little effort.

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