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Al Ahly earn first points in Arab Club Championship with 2-0 win over Al-Wahda

Al Ahly defeated Emirati side Al-Wahda 2-0 in their second game in the Arab Club Championship at Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo, thanks to goals from Amr Barakat and debutant Islam Mohareb. 

After losing their first match in the Arab Club Championship against Jordan’s Al-Faisaly, who are currently leading the race in the group with six points, Al Ahly won their first points of the competition with a 2-0 win against Al-Wahda.

Starting XI

Al Ahly XI: Mohamed El-Shenawy; Hussein El-Sayed, Mohamed Naguib, Rami Rabia, Bassem Ali; Hossam Ghaly, Amr El-Sulaya, Amr Barakat; Karim Nedved, Ahmed Hamoudi, Walid Azaro.

Al-Wahda XI: Mohamed Al Shamsi; Abdul-Rahim Ahli, Rim Chang-Woo, Salem Sultan, Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohamed Bargash; Sultan Al Ghafri, Dzsudzsak, Khalil Al Hamadi; Murad Batna, Mohamed Alsehie.

First Half

Hossam El-Badry made four changes to his regular 4-2-3-1, with the likes of Hussein El-Sayed, Amr Barakat, Ahmed Hamoudi and 22-year old debutant Walid Azaro entering his XI. Meanwhile Laurențiu Reghecamp, Al-Wahda’s manager, fielded a back-three with wing-backs to try and counter Al Ahly’s possessive style of play.

The first couple of minutes looked rough on both teams, beginning the match with a couple of fouls. Hamdan Al Kamali unfortunately got injured after a harsh tackle from Amr El-Sulaya, and was later replaced by Mohamed Baset.

Six minutes into the game and Hamoudi started the Red Devils’ first attack on the opposition. After a decent sprint from the halfway line, he dribbled passed Al-Wahda’s defenders before passing the ball to Nedved, whose shot was deflected off a defender for a corner.

Al Ahly then found their feet and started to focus on building the play diagonally by moving the ball from Ghaly to one of the flanks, with Nedved stepping up as a second striker alongside Azaro. Five minutes later and Al Ahly came close to scoring the opener as Hossam Ghaly hit the crossbar with a powerful header from Hamoudi’s curling cross from a corner.

Al-Wahda seemed far from attacking as they looked satisfied with just sitting deep in their own half of the pitch, applying the zonal defense technique to try and capitalize on Al Ahly’s high defensive line.

Al-Wahda’s fans waited long enough to see their team attack, and their only chance came from Dzsudzsak, who was set up from a long ball from their keeper to go one-on-one with El-Shenawy only to sky his effort.

Just a couple minutes later Amr Barakat scored the opening goal for the Red Devils with a powerful finesse shot from the inside of the 18-yard box, reviving Al Ahly’s hopes of continuing in the tournament. Al Ahly didn’t just stop there as it was pouring crosses from both flanks in Al-Wahda’s penalty area, but the Red Devils were unlucky not to find their second of the night by the half-time whistle.

Second half

Reghecamp realized that his defensive tactics weren’t effective at all, so he pushed his defensive line 30 yards up the pitch which made some of Al Ahly’s flaws exposed. 15 minutes into the second half and Hossam El-Badry found himself in trouble as Al-Wahda seemed close to grabbing their equalizer after a couple of chances from Dzsudzsak and Abdul-Rahim, but El-Shenawy had the upper hand on both occasions.

Five minutes later, Hossam El-Badry made the obvious choice of bringing on Islam Mohareb for Amr Barakat to change the formation to an inverted 4-3-3, which allowed Al Ahly to play more freely on the flanks.

Things still didn’t go as Reghecamp hoped as Khalil was given his second yellow card of the night after a harsh tackle on Al Ahly’s second debutant of the night, Islam Mohareb.

71 minutes into the game and then El-Badry decided to switch the formation up again as he switched from an inverted 4-3-3 to a diamond 4-4-2 formation, and brought on Amr Gamal for Nedved to have a much deeper role in the striker’s position.

Al-Wahda seemed to have been affected by the red card as they were absolutely nowhere near Al Ahly’s penalty area, especially with Al Ahly’s great ability of regaining possession. With only six minutes left in the game El Badry played his last card of the night by substituting in Mido Gaber for Ahmed Hamoudi, which nearly paid off as Mido had two decent chances but was unlucky not to score.

With this form from the Red Devils it would’ve been unfortunate for them not to have scored the second, as Islam Mohareb scored his first goal of his Ahly career in his first match with the team after a decent ball from Hossam Ghaly, which awaited Mohareb to hit the ball into an empty net and to revive Al Ahly’s hopes in the tournament.

Al Ahly’s next game in the tournament will be up against Algeria’s Nasr Athlétique de Hussein Dey.

Reporter at KingFut and a Broadcast Journalism senior at Misr International University.

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