Egyptian giants Al Ahly aiming to end African title drought

The Cairo-based Red Devils have eight titles in the premier continental club championship to their name

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Egypt’s Al Ahly are the most successful football club on the continent – with no fewer than eight African Champions League titles to their name.

The Cairo-based Red Devils have eight titles in the premier continental club championship to their name from their haul of 19 African titles.

Al Ahly first tasted glory in the African Champions League (then African Cup of Champions Clubs) in 1982. They added titles in 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012 with their last trophy landing in 2013.

The Red Devils started the 2013 African Champions League edition as titleholders. After receiving a bye in the preliminary round, they were drawn against Kenya’s Tusker in the first round. An away 2-1 victory in Nairobi was followed by another 2-0 win in Alexandria, as Al Ahly reached the quarterfinals with an aggregate 4-1 win.

In the round of 16, they had to face Tunisia’s CA Bizertin. After a 0-0 in Bizerte, Al Ahly survived a late scare to win 2-1 in Cairo and reach the group stage.

Al Ahly were drawn in group A, alongside bitterest rivals Zamalek, South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and Congo’s AC Leopards.

Their campaign start was slow, with an away 1-1 draw with Zamalek in Gouna, followed by a shock home 3-0 defeat to Pirates at the same venue.

But the Red Devils bounced back with three successive victories. An away 1-0 win over Leopards in Dolisie was followed by another 2-1 win over the same opponents in Gouna.

It was also Gouna that witnessed a famous 4-2 derby win over Zamalek as Al Ahly topped the group, before managing a goalless draw away to Pirates in Johannesburg as both sides qualified for the semifinals.

The semifinal was a thrilling contest. The first leg against Cameroon’s Coton Sport in Garoua was interrupted by a downpour after 65 minutes and had to abandon with the score being goalless.

The game was replayed 24-hours later and ended in a 1-1 draw. The return leg in Gouna ended in the same result, forcing the match to be decided on penalties. Despite seeing legendary Mohamed Aboutrika missing his first kick, Al Ahly emerged 7-6 winners to reach the final for the second year running.

In the final, Al Ahly had to face their group rivals Orlando Pirates again, but this time it was sweet revenge for the Red Devils.

The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg with Aboutrika scoring a trademark freekick.

He scored again to guide Al Ahly to a 2-0 victory at the Arab Contractors Stadium in Cairo, with Ahmed Abdel Zaher being the other scorer on the night. The 3-1 aggregate victory meant Al Ahly extended their record adding an eighth Champions League champions’ star on their famous red jersey.

Al Ahly went on to add another couple of African trophies since they last won the Champions League. They were winners in the 2014 African Super Cup for the sixth time in their history, and then added their first and only African Confederation Cup title in the same year.

Now, the Red Devils are dreaming of ending a seven-years Champions League and six-year of African trophies drought, when they tackle the 2019/2020 African Champions League semi-finals with hope in their hearts.

In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo

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