African Champions League
Ahly run goes on
Egyptian player of al-Ahli Mohamed Barakat © during their semi-final against Zamalek in CAF Champions League in Cairo 16 October 2005.
(FIFA.com) 17 Oct 2005
Egyptian giants Al Ahly booked their place in the CAF Champions League final after defeating Cairo rivals Zamalek 2-0 on Sunday. A brace from the inspirational midfielder Mohamed Barakat gave the Red Devils a 4-1 aggregate victory and a meeting with Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the two-legged final.
Trailing 2-1 after the first leg, the onus was on Zamalek to pursue victory and they looked threatening in the opening exchanges. The White Chiefs were quick into their stride and Ghanaian midfielder Junior consistently looked dangerous with his accurate passes and effective dribbling.
Mohamed Abdelwahed tested Ahly's goalkeeper Essam El Hadary with a long-range strike from a direct free kick but the international saved the shot with ease. Zamalek's best chance came in the 39th minute but Gamal Hamza failed to convert Abdelwahed's superb cross and headed the ball inches wide from three yards.
Ahly tried to turn things around before the interval and missed a couple of chances in the last five minutes of the first period. Mohamed Shawky, returning from suspension, shot wide despite being in a one-on-one situation with Zamalek's keeper Abdelmonsef. And Emad Moteab headed weakly into the hands of Abdelmonsef following a cross from Abu Treka.
Barakat the menace
After the break, the home side came out on top. Ahly's main source of threat was midfielder Barakat. First he surged down the right crossing superbly for Abutreka whose acrobatic scissor-kick landed narrowly wide. He then teed up Shawky whose again header bounced over.
Egyptian player of al-Ahli Club Islam al-Shater © vies with Tarek el-Sayed (L) and Gamal Hamza of al-Zamalek club during their CAF Champions League semi-final in Cairo 16 October 2005.
It was Barakat himself who made the breakthrough after 63 minutes. Mohamed Abu Treka sent his team-mate through with a sharp pass, and Barakat, showing a fine turn of speed to leave the Zamalek defence trailing behind, struck a right-foot shot over goalkeeper Mohamed Abdelmonsef.
Five minutes later, Abutreka should have doubled the lead but Abdelmonsef kept out his effort after a fine solo run.
But five minutes on Barakat did it again. Combining well with Moteab and Abutreka, the midfielder tapped home from six yards to send Ahly's jubilant supporters into raptures.
"We deserved the victory," said man-of-the-match Barakat. "We are now only one step away from our target, flying to Japan."
The final between Etoile and Ahly will be played on the weekends of 28-30 October and 11-13 November. The away match will be held in Sousse while Cairo will host the return leg, with the winners representing Africa at the FIFA World Club Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005.