A stunning long range Mohammed Magdy Afsha strike in the 85th minute gave Africa’s Club of the Century Al Ahly of Cairo their 9th Champions Cup/CAF Champions League title in the All-Egyptian final in Cairo.
This was a superb game in which both teams showed enough guile, fight and endeavour worthy of a continental final and Cairo derby.
Nigerian Junior Ajayi in the inside left berth released full back Nanny Eldemerdash over the top and in on goal. His first touch took him too close to the keeper who blocked his effort for a corner. The resultant corner was flung in and found Mohammed El Soulia unmarked, the midfielder headed home gleefully.
Ahly deserved that lead and could have doubled it as Ajayi found himself with a difficult bouncing ball in the box, he was surrounded by recovering Zamalek defenders and his effort smothered. Zamalek seemed overwhelmed by the occasion especially as they had never defeated their neighbours in this tournament.
As the half wore on Ferjan Sassi started to impose himself in the centre of the midfield while upfront Achraf Bencharki held every ball sent to him with a lot of skill and sublime touches. Zamalek started to play and dominate proceedings.
In the 30th minute, veteran skipper for the White Knights, Mahmoud Fadlalla, aka Shikabala picked up the ball wide right and with two Ahly opponents obstructing his view to goal. He shrugged off one, jinked away from the other and drove inside the box where he was confronted by another. He chose to get away from that defender by going away from goal and outside the box. This move gave him the space to wind up a rocket of a shot that flew past a bewildered ElShenawy in the Ahly goal. A goal worthy of the final.
At the resumption Zamalek continued where they left off with Sassi controlling and prompting but they were not able to create a really good chance. Ahly relied on the break one of which had another Ajayi involvement. This time his reverse pass into the channel set free Maaloul on the left who might have been forgiven had he gone for goal, instead he squared for the unmarked Hussein El Shahat. The midfielder’s firm sidefoot stab hit the foot of the post, bounced out, hit a retreating defender and out for a corner.
When it looked like the match will be heading for extra time Magdy ‘Afsha’ struck. A half clearance made its way to him, a deft control on his chest allows the ball and he let rip into the top left hand corner of the Zamalek net.
He was taken off shortly for a defender as South African 2013 Champions League winning coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, Pitso Mosimane, made the change to ensure he leads Ahly to their 9th and his personal 2nd.
Al Ahly worthy winners but Zamalek were not in anyway disgraced. Much better spectacle than the farce of 12 months ago.