Egypt's El Zamalek's players (Photo: Reuters)
Zamalek players have expressed satisfaction over qualification to the group stage of the CAF Champions League after a in a 3-3 aggregate draw against Ethiopia's Saint George.
"I want to thank Zamalek fans for their support. The group stage will need another level of preparations," the White Castle striker Ahmed Gaafar told the club's website.
"We faced very hard circumstances in Ethiopia such as lack of oxygen and a really bad playing field," defender Ahmed Magdi said.
Abdoulaye Cisse put the visitors in front after two minutes but Saint George's Shimelese Bekele levelled the aggregate score on the quarter hour mark.
Saint George were on course to cause an upset and eliminate the five-time African Champions after Isaac Isinde gave them the lead on the stroke of halftime but Cisse came to Zamalek's rescue with a close-range header two minutes from time.
"The fighting spirit of the players mad last minute win possible. Zamalek earned the qualification ticket," defender Ahmed Samir said.
"We missed our chance of home winning but after all we earned the ticket," said midfielder Ahmed Hassan while defender Mahmoud Fathallah believes that "experience deference and calmness were the key to the win."
Zamalek's arch-rivals Ahly also reached the group stage defeating Bizertinof Tunisia 2-1 on aggregate.
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