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Paulo stunner seals CAF Confederation Cup qualification for Smouha
Smouha have sealed automatic qualification for the African Confederation Cup after a 1-0 win over Tala’a El-Gaish on Friday at the Alexandria Stadium.
Smouha made an attacking start to the match, trying to breach the Tala’a El-Gaish defence as soon as possible with a win crucial for qualification.
Tala’a El-Gaish maintained possession for the majority of the first half hour, without posing any real threat to their opponents.
31 minutes into the first interval, 2014/15 Egyptian Premier League top scorer Hossam Salama ‘Paulo’ fired his side into the lead with a beautifully taken goal.
Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were extinguished when Mahmoud Badry saw red in the 78th minute, giving Helmy Toulan’s men a numerical advantage in the final ten minutes.
As the final whistle blew, Smouha’s players showed their ecstasy at securing African football for the upcoming season. Their 2017 CAF Confederation Cup campaign comes just two years after their 2015 Champions League campaign that saw them exit at the group stage.
Smouha’s win 1-0 over Tala’a El-Gaish rendered them in third place, with 55 points. Al Masry also collected 55 points over the course of the campaign, but trail Smouha in direct encounters and will have to hope two of the top three clubs reach the Egypt Cup final in order to qualify for the Confederation Cup along with the Alexandria club.
There was more good news for Smouha, as Paulo is likely to finish the season as top scorer for the second consecutive season, a feat last achieved 23 years ago by Ahmed El-Kass.