VIDEO: ‘Saint’ Treika recalls glory days as Ahly go through

Hatem Maher, Monday 14 May 2012

The classy playmaker scores three goals as Ahly survive Stade Malien scare to reach the Champions League group stage

Abou-Treika
Ahly's Mohamed Abou-Treika (photo: Bassam El-Zoghbi)

Mohamed Abou-Treika, displaying his old brilliance, scored a hat-trick to lift Ahly to the African Champions League group stage at the expense of Stade Malien following a nervy 3-2 aggregate win on Monday.

Playing without their spectators for security reasons at Cairo's Military Academy Stadium, Ahly surprisingly fell behind after 18 minutes when Oumar Kida capitalized on a defensive blunder to finish off a counter attack.

The stunning goal put the visitors on the verge of causing a huge upset, having defeated Ahly 1-0 in the first leg in Mali two weeks ago.

However, veteran playmaker Abou-Treika, who came on as a substitute before the break, scored from a free-kick, converted a penalty and clinically netted a third few minutes from time to hand six-time African champions Ahly a place among the last eight.

Stade Malien finished with ten men after Mohamed Koumare was sent off for a second bookable offence with six minutes remaining.

The Red Devils, the record winners of Africa’s premier club competition, are bidding to win the title for the first time since 2008.

Cautious strategy

Ahly coach Manuel Jose surprisingly opted for a cautious strategy that featured two defensive midfielders in Mohamed Shawky and Hossam Ashour.

However, the hosts dominated the early exchanges and were unlucky not to go ahead on several occasions.

Right-back Ahmed Fathi, who shrugged off an injury in time to start the game, had a fierce free-kick denied by the bar after four minutes. Striker Emad Meteb’s shot on the follow-up also struck the woodwork.

Forward Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’ headed just wide and Meteb narrowly missed the target with a shot on the turn.

Ahly were stunned when a defensive lapse allowed Stade Malien to hit them on the break on 18 minutes and leave them facing an uphill climb to avoid an unthinkable exit from the preliminaries.

Kida caught off-form defender Ahmed El-Sayed napping to run onto a left-wing cross and slide the ball home past advancing keeper Sherif Ekramy.

Needing three goals to progress, Ahly piled on pressure to cut the deficit. Jose made two substitutions before halftime, bringing on attacking midfielders Abdallah El-Saied and Abou-Treika instead of Fathi and Shawky.

Treika brilliance

Ahly continued to launch a wave of attacks in the second half, El-Saied having a powerful drive tipped over by keeper Soumaila Kone and Gedo sending a diving header just wide.

They were rewarded in the 54th minute when a trademark curling free-kick from Abou-Treika, nicknamed The Saint for his mild manners, found the net to revive Ahly’s hopes of going through.

The 33-year-old, who has played a key role in steering Ahly to a host of titles since his arrival in 2004, added the second in the 83rd minute when he calmly converted a penalty awarded for a handball on Koumare.

Abou-Treika notched up the decisive goal three minutes from time, rifling a powerful shot into the roof of the net after Meteb chested down a left-wing cross from Moawad.

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Ahly 3-1 Stade Malien

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