VIDEO: Formidable Ahly power to eighth Champions League title
Hatem Maher, Sunday 10 Nov 2013
Ahly secure a 2-0 home victory over South Africa's Orlando Pirates to win a record-extending eighth Champions League title on Sunday

Ahly ensured their African supremacy will remain intact for the foreseeable future, lifting some of the gloom hanging over Egyptian football after winning a second successive Champions League title at the expense of South Africa's spirited side Orlando Pirates.

Two second-half goals from talisman Mohamed Abou-Treika and striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher gave Ahly a 3-1 aggregate win after they held Pirates to a 1-1 draw in Soweto, clinching a record-extending eighth title in Africa's elite club competition.

Ahly played the last seven minutes with ten men after defender Sherif Abdel-Fadil was sent off for a second bookable offense, but their numerical disadvantage counted for little as they held firm in the dying minutes.

The Cairo giants' triumph came against the backdrop of a variety of problems at home, including the lack of domestic action following the army's overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi amid mass protests against his rule and the absence of their die-hard fans due to lingering security concerns.

But the supporters were allowed to attend the final in Cairo, packing the Arab Contractors Stadium where they created a feverish atmosphere to egg on the Red Devils as they defied the odds once again.

Ahly will make their fifth appearance at the Club World Cup in Morocco, where they will open their campaign against China's Guangzhou Evergrande. They will set up a mouthwatering clash against European champions Bayern Munich if they overcome Marcello Lippi's side.

Sunday's Champions League triumph made sure classy playmaker Abou-Treika would not end his career on a disappointing note, having revealed he would hang up his boots if Ahly lost. He is now set for a last journey in his career during the Club World Cup.

He lived up to his reputation as Ahly's rescuer with a decisive goal early in the second half that sent Ahly on their way to their first win over the Pirates in four Champions League meetings this season, having lost once and drew twice in the group stage and the final first-leg.

Ahly's win came nine days before Egypt host Ghana in the second leg of the World Cup playoff.

The Pharaohs, who take on the Black Stars at the army-owned 30 June Stadium in Cairo, virtually lost hopes of making their first World Cup appearance in 24 years, having suffered a humiliating 6-1 first-leg defeat in Kumasi.

The embarrassing loss cast gloom over Egyptian football, with fans turning their attention to Ahly to unleash a rare outburst of joy in the turmoil-stricken country.

Same strategy

Ahly played with the same strategy they adopted in the first leg, fielding two defensive-minded midfielders to contain the Pirates' pacy forwards and cut short their counter attacks.

However, the lack of a creative central midfielder made it hard to supply three attacking midfielders and a lone striker, some of whom repeatedly drifted to midfield to start the build-up play.

The first half was evenly-balanced but the visitors looked more dangerous in front of goal.

Two early headers from striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher and defender Mohamed Naguib went over the bar before playmaker Abdallah El-Said wasted Ahly's best chance after 17 minutes.

Full-back Ahmed Fathi exchanged passes down the left and sent a diagonal cross that found El-Said at the far post but his sliding effort hit the side netting.

But it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score.

Ahly's advancing keeper Sherif Ekrami denied Pirates a close-range effort in the 200th minute and a far-post header by the unmarked Tlou Segolela missed the target 15 minutes later.


A livelier Ahly side came on with all guns blazing in the second half, mounting early pressure that resulted in a trademark poacher's goal from Abou-Treika in the 54th minute.

A low shot by Abdallah El-Saied deflected off a defender to find the unmarked Abou-Treika, who controlled the ball with aplomb and drilled home from close range to send the home fans into raptures.

Pirates squandered a golden opportunity to level the aggregate score when Lennox Bacela, who unsettled Ahly's backline with his surging runs, somehow fired wide with the goal gaping after rounding Ekrami.

But Ahly effectively ended the match as a contest with 12 minutes remaining, thanks to another close-range goal from Abdel-Zaher, who stirred controversy after making the four-finger "Rabaa" salute to honour the victims of the police's dispersal of an Islamists sit-in in August.

Fathi laid off the ball to Abdallah El-Said, whose shot went across the face of goal and accidently found Abdel-Zaher for an easy tap-in.

Abdel-Fadil was sent off after a clumsy aerial challenge but Ahly were hardly affected, enjoying a night to remember before their enthusiastic supporters.

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