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VIDEO: Al Ahly continue good form at Rades to reach CAF Champions League semis

Al Ahly

came back from a goal down to beat Esperance at Rades and reach their first CAF Champions Leagues semi-final in four years.

Both Hossam El-Badry and Faouzi Benzarti made changes to the teams that drew 2-2 in Alexandria last week. Hosts Esperance started Saad Bguir in place of Ferjani Sassi, while Al Ahly brought on Walid Soliman, Momen Zakaria and Mohamed Naguib for the second leg in Rades.

Esperance XI: Ben Cherifia, Khalil Chammam, Chamseddine Dhaouadi, Ali Machani, Iheb Mbarki, Franck Kom, Fousseny Coulibaly, Ghailane Chalali, Saad Bguir, Anice Badri, Yassine Khenissi

Al Ahly XI: Sherif Ekramy, Ali Maaloul, Mohamed Naguib, Rami Rabia, Ahmed Fathy, Hossam Ashour, Amr EL-Sulaya, Walid Soliman, Momen Zakaria, Abdallah El-Said, Walid Azarou

The first chance of the match came the Egyptians way after two minutes only, but Momen Zakaria’s shot was diverted by keeper Ben Cherfia for a corner kick.

Soon after, Esperance dominated and started getting scoring opportunities. Bguir had his weak effort on goal saved in the 16th minute and Chalali then came close with two free-kicks, in the 24th minute and 27th minute.

Deadlock was finally broken minutes to half time after Sherif Ekramy fouled the Esperance defender in the 37th minute following a blunder by Ali Maaloul. Taha Yassine Khenissi converted from spot to score his sixth goal of the 2017 and give his side the lead five minutes before halftime.

El-Badry introduced Nigerian striker Junior Ajayi for Zakaria at the start of the second half. And the Red Devils levelled the scoreline five minutes after the restart through former CS Sfaxien left-back Maaloul.

The fullback was on hand to poke home after a mix up in the Esperance defense, with the Tunisian keeper failing to deal with Abdallah El-Said’s cross.

Another former CS Sfaxien player Junior Ajayi was on hand to punish Esperance de Tunis further with the second goal for Al Ahly. The Nigerian put his 62nd minute header past Ben Cherifia after Maaloul did great work to set him up.

Esperance were forced to look to their bench if they were to avoid elimination. Faouzi Benzarti brought on former Sfaxien duo Sassi and Ben Youssef. But the Tunisian giants found it difficult to come close to scoring.

One free-kick chance in the 84th minute came the way of Chalali again, but this time his effort did not trouble Ekramy. Al Ahly had their turn to try and score five minutes later but Azarou could not score when he was one-on-one with the Esperance goalie.

Al Ahly progress

The missed chance did not hurt Ahly too much as they held onto their 2-1 lead to qualify with a 4-3 aggregate score. This result ensured the Cairo side reached the CAF Champions League semis for the first time since 2013.

They become the second team to reach the semi-finals after USM Alger. Al Ahly will play the winner between Al Ahli Tripoli and Etoile Sportive du Sahel in the last four. The other spot will be decided between Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca.

I have dedicated part of my time in this bad world to following African football. From CECAFA to WAFU, COSAFA to UNAF & even the forgotten UNIFFAC.

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