Tag Archives: al-Ahly

A Spring final

Damiano Benzoni

With two minutes remaining, Ahmed Fathi finds el-Sayed Hamdi in the box and serves him. Hamdi kicks low, in the angle goalie Chrifia can’t reach. Al-Ahly has just evened scores with Espérance, whose Walid Hichri had scored the opener from a corner, in the first minutes of the second half. The match is the first leg of the African Champions League final, played the other night and finished in a 1-1 draw at the Borg el-Arab Stadium in Alexandria. Al-Ahly can be pleased at avoiding a loss in the finishing minutes, while Espérance can tame its disappointment with the comfort of having scored an away goal. The return leg will be played in two weeks at the Stade Olympique de Radès, in Tunisia. Al-Ahly and Espérance Sportive de Tunis are the most titled teams of their respective countries, as the former won thirty-six Egyptian league titles and thirty-five cup titles, while the latter won twenty-four Tunisian league titles and fourteen cup titles. Al-Ahly is also the most titled team in the continent as regards the CAF Champions League, a trophy the team has won six times between 1982 and 2008. Espérance, the winner in the past edition, had previously won the tournament only once, in 1994. Continue reading

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Egypt behind closed doors

Damiano Benzoni

In the 79th minute Mohamed Aboutreika unevened the score: he rose up between two Zamalek defenders and headed the cross of his team-mate Abdallah el-Said, sending it behind the shoulders of the goalie Abdelwahed el-Sayed. Aboutreika scored the winner for al-Ahly in the Cairo derby, taking “the people’s team” on top of group B of the CAF Champions League and leaving Zamalek bottom of the pool, behind the Ghanaians of Berekum Chelsea and the Congolese of TP Mazembe. Strangely enough for one of the most heated derbies in the world, nobody was there to cheer, and Aboutreika’s goal was welcomed by a deafening silence: for the first time in a ninety-year history, the Egyptian derby was played behind closed doors, with only journalists, photographers, commentators and officials attending. Continue reading

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