Egypt’s Ahly survive Congolese scare to win African Super Cup

Hatem Maher, Saturday 23 Feb 2013

Two second-half goals give Ahly a narrow 2-1 victory over AC Leopards in the African Super Cup on Saturday

Rami Rabeia (C) of Egypt's Ahly celebrates with team mates after scoring against Congo's Leopards during their Confederation of African Football (CAF) Super Cup soccer match at the Borg El Arab Stadium (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s Ahly won a record-extending fifth African Super Cup title following a narrow 2-1 victory over Congolese side AC Leopards, who were no pushovers against their mighty opponents.

The hosts, playing in front of around 3,000 spectators at Alexandria’s Egyptian Army Stadium, wasted a handful of clear-cut opportunities before finally breaking the deadlock ten minutes after the restart, thanks to a fierce drive from defensive midfielder Rami Rabeia.

Veteran midfielder Mohamed Barakat looked to have put the tie to bed after doubling Ahly’s lead but Leopards pulled one back with 12 minutes remaining when Rudy Bhebey Ndey held off Wael Gomaa to drill home from inside the area.

Ahly survived a late onslaught, thanks to some stunning saves from goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, to win the African Super Cup for the first time since 2009 and add it to their trophy-laden cabinet.

They worked hard for that triumph though, despite the gulf in class between them and Leopards, who won their first ever continental title when they lifted the Confederation Cup trophy last year.

Ahly once again lacked the cutting edge in a first half they dominated, with attacking duo El-Sayed Hamdi and new signing Ahmed Abdel-Zaher unable to capitalize on a series of chances set up by lively playmaker Abdallah El-Said.

El-Said had two shots that narrowly missed the target early on before releasing Abdel-Zaher with a fine threaded pass after 10 minutes but the latter’s sliding effort went wide.

Hamdi shot across the six-yard box when well positioned to score and left-back Ahmed Shedid had his long-range free kick tipped over by the keeper as Ahly piled on pressure.

However, they were almost caught on the break in the 37th minute when a poor back header by Gomaa found Leopards forward Ndey, who rounded Ekramy but saw his subsequent shot strike the post.

Ahly’s pressure paid dividends on 55 minutes when Rabiea’s thunderous long-range low shot went into the bottom corner.

Barakat, one of Ahly’s old guard who won four African Champions League titles, extended the gap in the 71st minute when he ran onto another defence-splitting pass from El-Said to slip the ball beyond the keeper and into the net.

Leopards, refusing to throw in the towel, were still dangerous on the break and narrowed the gap in the 78th minute when Ndey, under little pressure from marker Gomaa, swivelled and drilled home from inside the area.

They were unlucky not to restore parity deep in stoppage time when they had a powerful shot blocked by Ekramy as Ahly held on to win the tie.

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