CAF Champions League Final Recap: Al Ahly 1-1 Esperance
Match: Al Ahly 1-1 Esperance (Sayed Hamdy 88′ – Walid El Hicheri 49′)
Competition: CAF Champions League – Final (1st leg).
Venue: Borg El-Arab Stadium, Egypt
Esperance (4-3-3): Moez Ben Cherifia; Sameh Derbali, Walid Hicheri, Mohamed Ben Mansour, Khalil Chammam; Khaled Mouelhi, Houcine Ragued, Karim Aouadhi; Harrison Afful, Wajdi Bouazzi, Yannick N’Djeng.
KingFut’s Mohamed Seif recaps the highlights of the match…
10’ – YELLOW CARD: Esperance’s defender Derbali will miss the second leg of the CAF Champions League final after earning a yellow card for his tackle on Walid Suleiman.
14’ – CHANCE: Abdullah El Said picks up the ball on the edge of the 18 yard box and pulls a stinger of a shot that is superbly parried away by Esperance’s goalkeeper Bin Cherifia. Excellent save.
33’ – MISS: Mohamed Abu-Treika squanders the best chance of the game after missing a sitter. Ahmed Fathy picked up the ball on the right, dribbled past a defender and squared it to Abu-Treika who shot it well wide of the goal.
44’ – YELLOW CARD: Esperance’s Chammam received a controversial yellow card after tackling Walid Suleiman, then nastily kicking the ball in his face. Questions could be raised if whether a red card should have been awarded.
Half Time Recap: Al Ahly was utterly dominant in the first half, keeping possession of the ball and constantly keeping the Esperance players in their half. Esperance, led by Ma’loul on the other hand, were quite tactical defensively, as they closed down Ahly players effectively, playing on the counter attack. Overall, Al Ahly was the better side of the half, without having too many clear cut chances.
49’ – GOAL: Against the run of play, Esperance’s defender Walid El Hicheri took advantage of Sherif Ekramy’s goalkeeping error and headed the ball into the net from Chammam’s resulting corner to score a crucial away goal for the visitors. Ekramy was clearly at fault as he failed to rise and pick up the lofted ball.
A substitution took place with Sayed Hamdy coming on for Sherif Abdul Fadeel. This resulted in a tactical change as Walid Suleiman slotted in at LB in place of Abdul Fadeel while Hamdy took his place upfront.
55’ – YELLOW CARD: Harrison Afful is Esperance’s second player who will not be playing in the second leg of the final after picking up a yellow card.
57’ – CHANCE: Bin Cherifia produced another excellent save from Geddo’s long range effort to keep the score nil nil.
59’ – SUBS: In a move that was questioned by many, Al Ahly’s Hossam El Badri took off one of the club’s best performers in Hossam Ghaly and replaced him with the mercurial Mohamed Barakat.
65’ – CHANCE: N’Djeng almost made it two for Esperance as he headed the ball inches wide from the post. The sighs of relief could be heard all the way back to Cairo.
73’ – CHANCE: Man of the match Cherifia makes another save, this time from 6 yards out. Walid Suleiman, playing in his new LB spot, crossed the ball superbly from the left for Abu-Treika who placed it low only for Cherifia to save it with his legs.
A couple of substitutions were made as Traore and Ayari both came on for Esperance instead of N’Djeng and Afful while Met’eb came on for Geddo. A striker off for another striker.
88’ – GOAL: Al Ahly equalized in the dying minutes of the game through substitute Sayed Hamdy. Ahmed Fathy dropped his shoulder on the edge of the box, fooling three Esperance players in the process, and then instead of shooting from outside the box, he sent in a superb through pass to Hamdy who sunk it in the back of the net with his right foot past the excellent Cherifia.
Full Time Recap: Although Al Ahly had most of the possession during the course of the game, it was the tactical nous of Ma’loul which gave the Tunisian team the upper hand in dealing with the game, as well as scoring a crucial away goal. Al Ahly’s job in the return leg in two weeks time will certainly not be easy, but there’s more than a bundle of hope still in the Egyptian’s bid to win the CAF Champions League for another time.
King Fut’s Man of the Match:
Esperance’s 21 year old Tunisian goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia produced a superb performance worthy of a man of the match status. Assured at the back with excellent reflexes and confidence, he was by far the best player on the pitch. Here’s a name to keep an eye out on.
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