Al Ahly win African Champions League again

football25 May 2024 19:21| © Reuters
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Al Ahly © Getty Images

Egypt’s Al Ahly were crowned African champions for the fourth time in the last five years after scoring early to beat Esperance of Tunisia 1-0 in Saturday’s second leg of the Champions League final.

Home victory in front of a capacity 60 000 in Cairo secured a 1-0 aggregate triumph, after last Saturday’s goalless first leg in Tunisia, and a record-extending 12th victory for Al Ahly in the continent’s top club competition.

Captain Rami Rabia put the Cairo giants ahead in the fourth minute when his header from Hussein El Shahat’s corner took a deflection, off Roger Aholou, and crept into the corner of the net.

It was the first goal Esperance had conceded after keeping clean sheets in nine successive Champions League games.

Ahly attacker Abou Ali struck the side netting and their South African forward Percy Tau could have doubled the lead but put his 29th-minute effort wide.

Esperance rarely troubled the home goal. While they were strong in defence in reaching the final, they also struggled to score with only two goals in six matches in the knockout stages and they rarely troubled Ahly’s back four.

There was a scare for the Egyptians in the 61st minute, however, when Esperance’s Brazilian attacker Yan Sasse curled an effort narrowly wide after a swift one-two with compatriot Rodrigo Rodrigues.

A late free kick from Ahly substitute Mohamed Asfha cannoned off the crossbar as the home side, coached by Swiss Marcel Koller, enjoyed fanatical support with almost the entire crowd dressed in red and producing ear-splitting noise throughout the match.

Al Ahly consolidated their position as the continent’s top club with their 12th triumph in the competition. The next most number of Champions League wins by a single club is five for their Cairo rivals Zamalek and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Esperance, who have won the title on four occasions, finished runners-up for a fifth time.