Ahly hammered by Mamelodi Sundowns, Champions League quarterfinal hopes fading

Ahram Online , Saturday 11 Mar 2023

Egyptian giants Ahly endured another painful night at Pretoria after conceding a 5-2 defeat against South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday, leaving their hopes of advancing from the Champions League group stage in tatters.

Ahly s Egyptian defender Mohamed Abdelmonem (R) fights for the ball with Sundowns  midfielder Themba
Ahly s Egyptian defender Mohamed Abdelmonem (R) fights for the ball with Sundowns midfielder Themba Zwane (L) during the CAF Champions League group B match between South Africa s Mamelodi Sundowns and Egypt s al-Ahly at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on March 11, 2023. AFP


Two goals from Peter Shalulile and strikes from Marcelo Allende, Themba Zwane, and Teboho Mokoena sealed the victory for Sundowns, who have a recent record of superiority over the Red Devils.

Ahly's consolation goals came from Mohamed Sherif in the 13th minute and Percy Tau in the 61st minute.

This is not the first time that Sundowns have inflicted a heavy defeat on Ahly, as they hammered them 5-0 in April 2019 handing them their heaviest African defeat.

The South African team has now claimed three wins in their past six confrontations with the Red Devils without a single defeat.

Ahly's hopes of reaching the quarterfinals now look very slim as they are currently in third place in their group with just 4 points.

They are behind group leaders Sundowns, who have 10 points, and Al-Hilal of Sudan, who have nine.

Ahly need to win their next two games against Coton Sport of Cameroon in Garoua and Al-Hilal at home - and hope that Al-Hilal won't beat Sundowns next weekend in Sudan.

Complete domination

Despite the warm weather, South African fans packed into the Loftus stadium to cheer their team on.

The match got off to a stunning start as Marcelo Allendo fired a right-footed shot from outside the box into the bottom of the net to break the deadlock after just three minutes.

Ahly needed 10 minutes to level the score when Ahmed Kendouci applied high pressure on Sundowns' defense to collect a mispass and sent Sherif free to score at the bottom corner.

However, the hosts were back on the front foot, extending their possession to 80 percent to restore their lead in the 24th minute when captain Zwane was found unmarked inside the six yards at the far post to easily slot past keeper Mohamed El Shennawy.

In the 40th minute, defender Mokoena sent a rocketing 35-yard shot into the top corner, beating a helpless El Shennawy.

After the break, Ahly's coach Marcel Koller introduced Mohamed "Afsha" Magdy and Ahmed Abdel-Kader to turn his fortunes around.

The team improved slightly.

Ahly's best performer, Tau, pulled one back with a solo effort, skipping past two defenders and firing at the far post to make it 3-2 just past the hour mark.

But the Red Devils' defensive lapses proved costly yet again, as Shalulile scored two late goals in the 72nd and 88th minute to complete the rout.

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