I thought we played very well, and confidently. We should have been up 2-0 in the second half but Treka wasted an easy one. I hope we cruise easily towards the Champions league semis. Next up is Enyibma.
Ahly Earns Convincing Victory
Sunday June 26th 2005 | By Kareem Shaheen
In a classic encounter, Ahly rewrote the books as they managed to defeat North African arch-rivals Raja Casablanca for the first time ever in an African competition. Although the performance of the national team stars leaves something to be desired, Ahly’s convincing 1-0 victory courtesy of Mohamed Shawky indicates that the Egyptian league title holders are on the right track.
Ahly kicked off with a starting lineup consisting of Essam El Hadary, Shady Mohamed, Ahmed El Sayed, Islam El Shater, Mohamed Barakat, Gilberto, Emad El Nahhas, Hassan Mostafa, Mohamed Shawky, Ahmed Belal, and Mohamed Abu Treika.
Emad El Nahhas managed to deflect a brave one-on-one effort by Hecham Boucherouane only 2 minutes into the game. Ahly however regained composure with an excellent pass to an unmarked Belal just outside the area, but the returning striker flicked the ball inches wide. Belal came close again as keeper Yaseen El Hajj missed a corner, but Belal’s half-hearted effort sailed above the crossbar.
Excellent cooperative play by an otherwise mediocre Abu Treika saw an inch-perfect cross by Gilberto barely kept out by the keeper before it reached an anticipating Belal. The next 13 minutes were highlighted by a yellow card received by Ahly’s right back Islam El Shater for a foul from behind. Shawky came close with a powerful effort from 30 yards out that barely missed the goal and fired up the fans.
Belal was brought down in the area but a sadly incompetent referee put Belal in the book. Hadary almost cost Ahly dearly with a cross that Boucherouane headed over the bar, before the referee signaled offside. Islam El Shater earned a second booking and got his marching orders for a violent foul. An equally aggressive Raja were also reduced to 10 men after Angolan Gilberto was brought down by Hisham Mesbah in the commotion that ensued, with the Moroccan being sent off for an early bath.
Belal’s close-range shot 5 minutes from half-time was deflected by the keeper for a fruitless corner just as the teams settled down. A massively out of form Abu Treika wasted a perfectly good chance with a poorly executed cross from inside the area, 2 minutes into injury time. Emad El Nahhas kept Boucherouane at bay in the resulting counter-attack, saving the day, seconds before the Algerian referee whistled half-time.
Abu Treika kicked off the second half with an excellent cross from a free kick that managed to miss several Ahly strikers. A long ball saw a Raja striker go solo from the flank, fake Shady Mohamed, and then send the ball into the side netting as the fans heaved a collective relieved sigh. A long range cross by Abu Treika almost deceived the keeper, whose fingertip save kept the game deadlocked.
Shawky awed the fans with a spectacular free kick that pierced the net from 30 yards out, opening the score line with flying colours, as Ahly regained control in the midfield. The fans rejoiced even more as youth sensation Emad Met’eb returned to action in place of an ineffective Belal. Emad Met’eb quickly earned applause with a cunning pass to Abu Treika whose only obstacle to scoring was the keeper, but the national team midfielder failed to capitalize. Abu Treika was on hand once again with a perfectly executed free kick that Yaseen El Hajj barely tipped out for yet another fruitless corner.
A through pass to Sofian El Lody 22 minutes into the game almost cost Ahly dearly, but the Moroccan’s low shot was impressively held by Hadary. Another attack by Raja ensued in quick succession, but the back header by a Raja striker was once again kept at bay by the keeper. Man of the match Hassan Mostafa stepped in barely in time to tip the ball for a corner before Boucherouane managed to put one past Hadary as Raja piled up the pressure. An impressive combo between Abu Treika and Met’eb saw Abu Treika tip the ball past the keeper but agonizingly inches wide, before Jose pulled out an injured but stellar Gilberto for Ahmed Abu Musallam.
A brilliant through pass by veteran star Grendo wreaked havoc before Shady Mohamed stepped in and saved the day. Abu Musallam earned a booking 15 minutes after his entrance for a handball, before Wael Reyad ‘Cheetos’ replaced an exhausted an subpar Abu Treika 8 minutes before time. Reyad almost justified his substitution with a sublime cross to an unmarked Met’eb, whose sidekick failed to find the net. A tense 3 minutes of injury time saw nothing of note as Ahly claimed the first 3 points of the African quarter finals.
The Red Devils earned the first deserved victory of the African Champions League quarter finals, heading the group with 3 points ahead of Enyimba of Nigeria and South African Ajax, as both were held to a 1-1 draw earlier this evening. An impressive season debut for the Reds amidst some odds, not the least of which is a disheartened national team squad comprised to a large extent of Ahly starters. Ahly however, is on the right track towards securing a semi-final spot, particularly with the unimpressive display of their group opponents. All in all the Reds managed to hold on to their stellar form from last season, a warning sign to their domestic and continental rivals.