Ahly suffer 1-0 defeat to Sundowns in African Football League semis

Mahmoud Elassal , Sunday 29 Oct 2023

Egypt's Ahly endured a 1-0 loss to South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of the African Football League (AFL) semifinals at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday.

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Sundowns South African defender #25 Khuliso Mudau tackles Ahly s Egyptian forward #27 Taher Mohamed during the African Football League (AFL) semi-final first leg match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on October 29, 2023. AFP


Thapelo Maseko broke the deadlock seven minutes into the second half with an unstoppable strike from outside the area, granting Sundowns a well-deserved lead that reflected their dominance throughout the game.

Mamelodi Sundowns exerted control from the start but struggled to find the back of the net due to Ahly's resilient defense.

Themba Zwane came close to opening the scoring after 20 minutes when he received a long pass from Teboho Mokoena, but the striker failed to control the ball inside the area as Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy thwarted the danger.

Mokoena himself delivered a brilliant header from inside the area, only to be denied once again by El-Shennawy.

In the second half, Sundowns continued their dominance, and their relentless pressure eventually helped them secure the lead.

Ahly missed their first clear-cut scoring chance in the 62nd minute when striker Percy Tau provided a sharp assist inside the area, but defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim failed to find the net.

Swiss coach Marcel Koller introduced newly signed French striker Anthony Modeste and right back Akram Tawfik in an attempt to inject fresh energy into the team and find the equalizer.

Koller made another substitution, replacing the Moroccan winger with Taher Mohamed Taher nine minutes before the final whistle, but Sundowns' defense successfully blocked his efforts to level the score.

The hosts, Sundowns, maintained relentless pressure on Ahly's defense and came agonizingly close to extending their lead in the final minute of the game, only for the crossbar to deny Mokoena's header.

Ahly played the match without several key players, including in-form winger Emam Ashour, who was sidelined with a calf injury, as well as midfielders Amr El-Sulaya, Karim Fouad, Ahmed Abdel-Kader, and defender Mahmoud Metwally, all of whom are still recovering from injuries.

The AFL title holder will receive a prize of $4 million, the highest reward in continental club competitions.

Ahly will host Sundowns at Cairo International Stadium in the second leg of this prestigious continental tournament on Wednesday to determine the team that advances to the final.

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