Preview: Egypt's Ismaily in mission impossible to keep alive Champions League hopes

Ahram Online , Friday 1 Mar 2019

File photo of Benson Shilongo (C), who scored Ismaily's only goal in a 1-1 draw at home to CS Constantine last month (Photo: Ismaily's official Facebook page)

Last month, Egypt's Ismaily were inches away from reviving their African Champions League hopes, only to concede a heartbreaking last-gasp equaliser at home to Algeria's CS Constantine.

The demoralized outfit, reinstated to Africa's premier club competition after a successful appeal against a CAF decision to expel them following crowd trouble in an earlier match, now face a daunting task away from home against Constantine on Saturday.

They lie at the bottom of Group C with a solitary point from three matches, six behind Constantine, who played the same number of games, and six adrift of leaders Mazembe who played four.

Any result other than a win on the road would all but end Ismaily's hopes of reaching the knockout phase on their first Champions League appearance in eight ears.

"We are going for a win, we have nothing to lose at this stage," the team's coach Cedomir Janevski told the pre-match news conference.

"It's true that our opponents have the advantage of playing at home before their fans, but we will also benefit from the vibrant atmosphere which can motivate us."

The home match, which was played in Alexandria behind closed doors as CAF imposed a crowd ban on Ismaily, was a dour affair with few clear-cut chances at both ends.

Ismaily lacked imagination and spark but were still lucky to take a second-half lead via a goal from Namibian striker Benson Shilongo.

However, Emad Hamdi inadvertently converted a cross into his own net deep in stoppage time to deny his own team a first win in the group.

"We want to get our chances back on track tomorrow," Janevski, a Macedonian-Belgian coach, added.

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