Monday, 17 June

CAF Champions League: Al Ahly beat Espérance to lift 12th trophy

Sports News
Al Ahly wins champions league

An early own goal by Roger Aholou secured a dramatic 1-0 victory for Egypt’s Al Ahly over Tunisia’s Esperance in Cairo on Saturday, earning Al Ahly a record-extending 12th CAF Champions League title.

The triumph marked a 1-0 aggregate win for Al Ahly after a goalless first leg, securing back-to-back titles in Africa’s premier club competition for the fourth time. Remarkably, they became only the third team to win the Champions League with an unbeaten record, having won nine and drawn five of their 14 qualifying, group, and knockout matches.

This victory highlighted a successful period for Cairo clubs, as their arch-rivals Zamalek clinched the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup just the previous weekend.

Al Ahly coach Marcel Koller made one enforced change from the first leg, with Karim Fouad stepping in for the injured Ali Maaloul, who had to leave the pitch after only seven minutes in Tunisia. Goalkeeper Mostafa Shobeir, who had not conceded in eight matches since replacing injured captain Mohamed El Shenawy during the group stage, maintained his position between the posts.

Esperance coach Miguel Cardoso, in pursuit of his first managerial trophy, fielded an unchanged side. Goalkeeper Amanallah Memmiche, who had kept 12 clean sheets in 13 previous Champions League matches this season, was forced to retrieve the ball from his net just four minutes into the match.

The decisive moment came early when Al Ahly captain and center-back Ramy Rabia headed a corner goalwards. The ball deflected off Esperance midfielder Aholou and into the corner of the net.

Spurred on by a passionate, predominantly red-clad sell-out crowd at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium, Al Ahly launched relentless attacks. Wessam Abou Ali narrowly missed, South African Percy Tau struck the side netting with a fierce drive, and Memmiche made a crucial save to deny Hussein El Shahat.

Esperance struggled throughout the first half, their only notable attempt being a poorly executed free-kick by Yan Sasse, one of two Brazilians in the line-up. The Tunisian side was fortunate to be only one goal down at halftime.

In the second half, Al Ahly’s dominance slightly waned, and they had a close call when a Sasse drive narrowly missed the target. As the match progressed, Al Ahly’s anxiety became apparent, with goalkeeper Shobeir receiving a warning from the Congolese referee for time-wasting.

To bolster their attack and secure a second goal, Koller introduced Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy and Mahmoud Kahraba with 12 minutes remaining. Magdy came close to scoring two minutes from the end when his free-kick from just outside the area struck the crossbar with Memmiche beaten.

Ultimately, Al Ahly’s early goal sufficed, leading them to a historic 12th CAF Champions League title and reinforcing their dominance in African club football