Last-gasp stunner gives Ahly Confed Cup title to end Egyptian curse

Hatem Maher , Saturday 6 Dec 2014

Emad Meteb
Emad Meteb of Egypt's Ahly fights for the ball with Ibrahim Kone of Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport during their African Confederations Cup final soccer match at Cairo stadium (Photo: Reuters)

Veteran striker Emad Meteb headed home deep into stoppage time as a determined Ahly side won the only continental title missing in their trophy-laden cabinet after claiming a 1-0 home victory over Sewe Sport in the Confederation Cup final on Saturday.

The Ivorian outfit were on the verge of claiming their first ever African title but they were eventually punished for wasting several goal-scoring opportunities, with Meteb, who has been an otherwise peripheral figure, towering unmarked to take full advantage of a pinpoint cross from the in-form Walid Soliman.

The last-gasp stunner sparked wild celebrations among the tens of thousands of the ardent Ahly fans, who were allowed to attend an official game for the first time since February.

Spanish coach Juan Garrido, who won his second title in charge of Ahly after helping them win the Egyptian Super Cup, sprinted down the touchline to join his celebrating players in euphoric scenes at the end.

Ahly emerged triumphant virtue of the away-goal rule after slumping to a 2-1 first-leg defeat in Abidjan, finally winning Africa's secondary club competition, which has eluded Egyptian clubs in its old and new formats.

The Cairo giants, who were appearing in their third successive African final after winning the Champions League in 2012 and 2013, took their tally to 20 continental titles, more than any other club in the world.

Sewe Sport were unlucky not to find the net in the first half after exploiting recurring mistakes by Ahly's rearguard but could not withstand the relentless pressure towards the end, which witnessed a goal-line clearance and a penalty claim by the hosts waved away.

Passionate fans

Ahly's passionate supporters stole the show in the first half after displaying a tifo that read "football is for fans", in a reference to an intermittent crowd ban that has been in place since the 2012 Port Said tragedy that left over 70 Ahly fans dead.

Tifo is a football term that refers to an organised effort by fans to support a team through the use of choreography and signs.

The die-hard fans, who stormed the stadium early in the morning in defiance of the tight restrictions put by security forces, also set off many firecrackers before kick-off, sending smoke billowing around the venue.

Ahly's players failed to make the most of their vociferous and deafening cheers though, producing a mediocre performance that allowed a plucky Sewe Sport side to launch some dangerous raids which almost yielded a surprise goal on three occasions.

The Red Devils' lone striker Meteb and three attacking midfielders barely troubled Sewe's composed backline, with most of their efforts hitting roadblocks in the final third.

Sewe could have opened the scoring as early as the ninth minute when Hermann Kouao sent a free header just wide after a corner picked him out unmarked. Ahly's central defensive pair Mohamed Naguib and Saad Samir were nowhere to be seen more than once but the visitors' lack of cutting edge let them down.

On 29 minutes, Roger Assale fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy following a Kouao lay-off from inside the area and Souleymane Dembele rattled the crossbar with a fierce drive four minutes later.

Ahly onslaught

Ahly came on with all guns blazing in a second half they largely dominated, mounting an onslaught although their goal-scoring opportunities remained scarce.

Their first real chance fell to Moussa Yedan five minutes after the interval when the Burkinabe winger met a far-post cross with a volley that went past keeper Sylvain Gbohouo before being cleared off the line by a defender.

The lively Walid Soliman, Ahly's best performer, had two chances to break the resistance of Sewe Sport.

His shot on the turn was palmed by the towering Gbohouo and his superb curling, angled effort with 10 minutes remaining narrowly missed the target.

Sewe Sport were very dangerous on the break in the latter stages but their poor efficiency did not allow them to kill off the match and they were made to pay for that.

Meteb rose at the near post to power a header into the back of the net from a Soliman cross six minutes into stoppage time, gifting his club one of their most remarkable African triumphs.

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