Orlando expose Ahly's shaky backline to reach Confederation Cup final

Omar Zaazou, Sunday 4 Oct 2015

A lacklustre Ahly side slumped to a 4-3 return-leg loss following a 1-0 first-leg defeat at South Africa's Orlando Pirates to wave the Confederation Cup goodbye

Malick Evouna of Egypt's Al Ahly and Thabo Qalinge (L) of South Africa's Orlando Pirates fight for the ball during their African Confederation Cup semi-final soccer match at Suez Stadium in Suez, east of Cairo, Egypt, October 4, 2015. (REUTERS)

A below-par Ahly were dumped out of the CAF Confederation Cup semis after failing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg defeat by South Africa's Orlando Pirates to slump to another embarrassing 4-3 return-leg loss at Suez Stadium.

Ahly looked en route to overturn the first-leg deficit after Gabon striker Malick Evouna scored either side of the interval. But the South Africans managed to pull one back through substitute Kermit Erasmus in the 58th minute.

The 2-1 scoreline brought Ahly back to square one, as all they needed now was to score a single goal to go through, but it was the visitors who netted a second through Thamsanqa Gabuza in the 75th minute to make Ahly's mission more difficult.

Orlando, however, did not rest on their laurels with their opponents needing to score two goals to progress, as Thabo Matlaba compounded Ahly's woes with another goal with just four minutes remaining.

Substitute Amr Gamal then equalized to make it 3-3 in the second minute of stoppage time, before another sub in Thabo Rakale made sure the Buccaneers emerged winners in both legs in the final minute.

Ahly now squandered their last chance to save their faltering season, after losing the domestic league and cup titles to arch-rivals Zamalek.

Orlando Pirates and Etoile du Sahel, who edged out Zamalek with a 5-4 aggregate win, now meet in the competition's two-legged final in November.

Ahly shambolic defending

In a largely dreary affair, Evouna finally managed to open the scoring three minutes from half-time when he latched onto a Abdallah El-Saied lofted through ball to break clear and brilliantly round the keeper before slotting home.

Evouna, who joined Ahly in the summer for a hefty fee in the region of $2.5million, then made it two after the break when he headed past the keeper Moemen Zakareya's cross from the right just eight minutes into the second half.

Ahly, however, were pegged back by Erasmus who struck a brilliant volley from inside the area that beat keeper Sherif Ekramy at the far post.

And it wasn't the end of Orlando Pirates' goals though, with Gabouza allowed to make his way through the Ahly defense unopposed before seeing his strike hit a defender and fly into the net to make it 2-2.

With Ahly in dire need to score two goals, a blunder from Sherif Ekrami was the last thing they ever wished for, with the keeper seeing his pass to Mohamed Naguib intercepted by Matlaba who eventually evaded the latter's challenge and slid home.

Gamal then scored the goal that could have basically spared Ahly's blushes when he pounced on a loose ball to strike from inside the area for his side's third of the night two minutes into stoppage time.

But another horrendous defending from the reigning champions' backline allowed their opponents to emerge winners, when an unmarked Rakale was allowed to exploit the space between the Egyptians' center backs to net his side' fourth to make it a 5-3 aggregate win. 

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