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Al Ahly 4-1 Berekum Chelsea: Al Ahly restore some Egyptian pride

Match: Al Ahly 4-1 Berekum Chelsea (17’ Abdallah El Saeed, 33’ M. Naguib,  67’ & 72’ Walid Soliman; 39’ Emmanuel Clottey)
Competition: African Champions League 2012 – Group B
Venue: Military Academy Stadium, Cairo,
Referee: D. Haimoudi‎ (Algeria)

On a dramatic and frustrating day of football for Egyptians, Al Ahly played the hero’s role and restored some Egyptian pride by convincingly beating Ghana’s Berekum Chelsea at Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium behind closed doors. After Egypt’s U23 team was eliminated from the quarter-finals of the Olympics and Zamalek lost in the African Champions League for the third successive time, Al Ahly were able to secure 3 points that consolidate their lead on top of Group B with maximum points after 3 wins from 3 matches, lifting the hopes of a nation.

The six-time champions didn’t look like they were missing the influential trio – Mohamed Abou Treika, Emad Meteb and Ahmed Fathi – who were with the U23 squad squad on Olympic duty in London. Al Ahly coach Hossam El Badry started with his preferred formation of 4-2-3-1.

Al Ahly starting XI: Sherif Ekramy; Sayed Moawad, Mohamed Naguib, Wael Gomaa, Sherif Abdel-Fadil; Hossam Ashour, Hossam Ghaly, Mohamed Barakat, Walid Soliman (Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’, 78),  Abdallah El Saeed (Dominique Da Silva, 86); Oussou Konan (Gedo, 58).

Berekum Chelsea starting XI: Emset Sowah; Eric Agyemang, Ahmed Adams, Richard Boateng, Nafiu; Jackson Owusu, Abdul-Basit Mohamed (71’ A. Arthur), Gladson Awako (71’ S. Asante), Acheampong, Badolo (80’  Ibrahim Issaka), Jordan Opuku; Emannuel Clottey.

First Half

The home side had the lion’s share of possession in the opening 15 minutes but with nothing to show for it. The first real chance of the game fell to the tournament’s top goal scorer, the ever dangerous Emannuel Clottey who saw his shot saved by Al Ahly GK Ekramy. Al Ahly settled down and started playing some good flowing football and in the 17th minute, Abdallah El Saeed scored the opener with a long-range low-shot from outside the box after a brilliant passage of play between Ivorian Oussou Konan and Walid Soliman.

The Egyptian side continued to pile the pressure on their guests. A flurry of passes found Barakat on the right flank but his cross was cleared of danger. Moments later, Walid Soliman demonstrated why he is slowly becoming the fans favorite after showing great dribbling techniques and sending a neat cross while nut-megging the Chelsea defender in the process. His cross was cleared by the defense and from the resulting corner, Mohamed Naguib rose high to meet Barakat’s excellent cross and slotted home his header in the bottom left corner of Sowah’s net in the 33rd minute to double the home side lead.

The guests almost instantly replied after a magnificent slalom run from Richard Boateng dribbling past Al Ahly defense only to fire his shot over the bar. In the 39th minute, Abdul Basit was played through inside Al Ahly box but went down after a good fair tackle by Naguib. Awako was quickest to the loose ball but was brought down by Ekramy when he tried to round him, as referee awarded the guests a penalty. Clottey stepped up to slot in the resulting penalty scoring his 12th goal of the tournament. That goal shocked Al Ahly and the blues had a good spell of possession until Richard Boateng turned from hero to villain when he was given the marching orders by the Algerian referee after a nasty tackle on Soliman.

Second Half

Berekum Chelsea started well and the first real threat in the second half came from Clottey again who forced a good punch save from Al Ahly GK Ekramy after a strong medium-height shot. Though they were one man down, Berekum Chelsea didn’t show signs of giving up and for the first 15 minutes of the half it looked like an 11 vs. 11 match with Al Ahly not making any use from the one-man advantage.

Gedo came on for Konan to try to inject some new blood upfront and in the 63rd minute, and moments after veteran Egyptian defender Wael Gomaa saw a red card for a second bookable offence after a needless sloppy tackle.

Al Ahly regained their 2-goal cushion a few minutes later through Walid Soliman whose first touch was sublime lofting the ball over the defenders, turning around and firing a half volley into the top corner. In the 72nd minute, fantastic build-up play between Ghaly and Barakat on the right flank, the latter cut back neatly to Soliman who brilliantly executed and calmly volleyed the ball in the roof of Sowah’s net who was caught in no mans land.

15 minutes from time, Clottey was lucky to escape a red card after a horror two-footed tackle on Al Ahly’s Soliman who had to be substituted afterwards. Al Ahly held firm in the final minutes and cruised to a crucial win.

Full-Time Verdict

Time and time again Al Ahly has given the nation something to smile about. The team looked impressive at times, careless defensively at times but El Badry continued his smooth sailing in African Champions League. The team looked in fine form although they were without the legendary Abou Treika. Also, Berekum Chelsea Emanuel Clottey continued to bolster his status as Africa’s hottest goal scorer this season increasing his tally to 12 goals.

King Fut’s Man of the Match

This match produced a lot of contenders for our Man of the Match, whether it was Mohamed Barakat’s electric performance and two assists or Abdallah El Saeed’s excellent role in filling the boots of Abou Treika scoring a goal and assisting another, King Fut’s MOTM will go to Walid Soliman. Splendid all-round performance from him for the second game running, excellent dribbling techniques, a smart assist and two sublime finishes. You can read more about Walid Soliman in our Player Profile, here.

Follow Moustafa El Chiati on twitter.

Co-founder of and a rabid life-long fan of all things Egyptian and international football. Moustafa's passion and dedication to the cause spans close to three decades of profound interest in monitoring the developments of the Egyptian football scene from the perspective of an Egyptian football loyalist at heart with a critical discerning eye of an international football observer. He has previously contributed articles to various blogs such as A Football Report, Lovely Left Foot and more. Moustafa is also also a long-suffering, beleaguered fantasy football manager who, never walks alone. YNWA.

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