A wasteful Ahly side could only score a single goal at home against debutant South Africans Bidvest Wits in the first leg of the Champions League round of 32 at Cairo’s El-Salam Stadium on Saturday.
A second-half header from Egypt center-back Ahmed Hegazy eventually proved the sole goal the eight-time African champions bagged at their home venue, heading into the return leg in Johannesburg with an uncomfortable lead.
Bidvest Wits, whose only continental appearances where three Confederation Cup participations, host the Cairo giants next week on March 17.
The first half kicked off with Ahly expectedly in control, but the hosts struggled to create clear-cut chances throughout the opening period, thanks to their opponents’ organization at the back.
The Reds had a few promising team-moves as the final touch continually let them down, with winger Moemen Zakareya in particular disappointing on a couple of occasions.
The situation was different after the break, with striker Amr Gamal hitting the post with a weak strike just one minute into the second half.
Tunisia full-back Ali Maaloul narrowly missed the target on 55 minutes, before their opponents came close just a minute later with another attempt that missed the target by inches.
But it was the 56th minute when center-back Hegazy headed his side in front following a corner kick from the left that was flicked on by Hossam Ghaly into the former’s path.
The Cairo side continued piling up the pressure and could have doubled their lead through Junior Ajayi, who dispossessed a defender before running directly towards goal and seeing his shot go high over.
Ajayi’s replacement, Walid Soliman, was then denied by the keeper in the 67th minute after going through on goal from inside the area, with Ahly desperately looking for a second goal.
Hossam El-Badry’s men looked to have run out of gas at a point in the latter stages of the game, but the final minutes still witnessed the home side lay siege to their opponents’ box, with Abdallah El-Said being thwarted by the keeper in the last minute.
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