Ahly's coach says players perfectly executed his plan
Hatem Maher, Saturday 2 Nov 2013
Ahly's coach Mohamed Youssef credits his players for a 1-1 draw away to South Africa's Orlando Pirates in the first leg of the African Champions League final

Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef lavished praise on his players although they squandered what seemed a certain victory at South Africa's Orlando Pirates after conceding a last-gasp goal in the first leg of the African Champions League final on Saturday.

The Red Devils were on the verge of securing their first Champions League win on South African soil but were undone by a goal from Thabo Matlaba deep into stoppage time in Johannesburg.

Veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika put the visitors in front with a brilliant curling free-kick just before the quarter-hour mark.

"We knew how to deal with them, we played well. They usually pile on pressure up front and leave gaps at the back, which we tried to expose tonight through our counter attacks," rookie coach Youssef told Al-Jazeera in a pitch-side interview after the match.

"I want to salute my players for doing exactly what they were asked to do. If we were a bit calm in the final third we would have doubled our advantage. But still, a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg is a good result."

Ahly will be favourites to retain their Champions League crown and extend their record to eight triumphs in Africa's elite club competition when they host the Pirates in Cairo in the second leg on 10 November.

"There are still 90 minutes left to play in Cairo. Things will be different at home when we have the support of our fans," Youssef added.

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