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Semis in sight
Published in Ahram Online on 18 - 05 - 2021

South Africa's Pitso Mosimane got one over his former employers as Egypt's home side Ahly beat Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 in the first leg of the Total CAF Champions League at Al Salam Stadium on Saturday.
Taher Mohamed Taher was on target in the first half while Salah Mohsen doubled Ahly's lead late in the second half to give the defending champions a slight edge over the South Africans ahead of next weekend's return leg in South Africa.
Taher broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute with a sweetly struck shot after drifting in to his favourite right foot, having brilliantly controlled Aliou Dieng's long ball.
In the second half, Sundowns, which up until last year were coached by Mosimane, picked up the tempo and had a chance in the 58th minute when Mosa Lebusa sneaked in to head at the near post off a cross on the right but his effort was saved by a hawk-eyed Mohamed Al-Shennawi.
The shot stopper was once again called into action in the 71st minute, making a brilliant one handed save to tip over Motupa's well struck shot after Sundowns had played some beautiful football, substitute Kermit Erasumus playing the tee-up ball.
Ahly made changes, Junior Ajayi coming on for goal scorer Taher while Walter Bwalya was also introduced for Mohamed Sherif, Mosimane clearly going for an attacking finish.
They got that second goal they were craving for, partly thanks to an error of judgment from keeper Dennis Onyango. The Ugandan had come off his line in a bid to pick out a long ball from Ajayi, but completely failed to pick out the ball.
Substitute Mohsen controlled with his chest and slapped the ball into an empty net to seal the victory for Ahly.
Following the game Ahli filed an official complaint with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) against Senegalese referee Maguette N'Diaye, claiming they deserved a penalty kick following a horror tackle from keeper Onyango against striker Sherif.
"In our complaint we listed a few mistakes the referee committed like omitting a penalty for Mohamed Sherif and an expulsion for Mamelodi Sundowns keeper who used excessive force against our striker in the area," a statement on the club's website said.
Sherif infiltrated the area and tried to intercept the ball on his chest when Sundowns keeper Onyango came out flying feet-first to brutally kick the striker in his back. Both players were down on the pitch and the referee whistled a foul for Onyango. Later at night Sherif published on his Instagram account a picture of his back with ugly bruises.
In the statement, Ahly said the goalkeeper should have been red carded and that the decisions of the referee had prejudiced the outcome of the game, adding that N'Diaye did not protect their players while giving them unnecessary bookings.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim Adel stepped off the bench to score a second half brace as Egypt's Pyramids FC came from a goal down to beat Nigeria's Enyimba 4-1 in the first leg of the Total CAF Confederation Cup quarter-finals in Cairo on Sunday.
Victor Mbaoma had given the visitors a first minute lead, but Pyramids, finalists in last season's edition, bounced back with Ramadan Sobhi and skipper Abdullah Said scoring before Adel's brace sealed the vital first leg victory.
Mbaoma broke the deadlock very early on, taking advantage of a goalkeeping mess from Sherif Ekrami. The shot stopper attempted to play some fancy footwork to evade Mbaoma, but the forward pinched the ball from under his feet and scored.
Pyramids however went back on level terms before halftime, and it was thanks to another blunder at the back, this time Enyimba defender Nelson Ogbonnaya with the mistake. Sobhi pounced in as the defender attempted to make a turn at the edge of the box before gliding past the keeper and tapping into an empty net.
In the second half, Pyramids stepped up and just four minutes in they had taken the lead when skipper Said planted the ball into the bottom left off a Sobhi lay off.
The home side should have been 3-1 up five minutes later, but Eric Traore saw his point blank effort saved by the keeper after connecting to a Mohamed Sharaf cross from the left.
But, they were stretching away in the 58th minute and did so in style with Adel's brilliant goal. The substitute scored with a well taken overhead kick when he adjusted his body superbly to connect to an Ahmed Fathy cross from the right.
They sealed their victory in the 66th minute when Adel completed his brace after Sobhi played him through when the Enyimba defense struggled to clear a cross ball.
From then on, it was easy going for the Egyptians as they kept possession, Enyimba struggling to gain the ball and make any meaningful foray of attack.
"I am happy with our win of course despite conceding an early goal because of a mistake from the goalkeeper, which is normal. Mistakes happen," Pyramids head coach Rodolfo Arwaparena said after the match. "Yet, we played for a big score, which we eventually did and we won 4-1
"We are looking forward to the next game. We have a week to go to work on our defensive mistakes, which the team have committed recently. Sorry for the injury of Mohamed Farouk. He is an important player for us. We will see how bad is the injury and we hope it is not serious. We also hope Mahmoud Wadi would soon recover from his injury. For the coming games, we'll rotate the players to avoid exhaustion."
Eniymba's head coach Fathi Osho said "Pyramids played a good game, congratulations for winning. They made use of our mistakes for their benefit. Though we started scoring early in the match, Pyramids managed to lead the game and we couldn't come back in the second half, yet we didn't lose hope, we tried and did our best, but didn't make it. We still have the second leg which we plan to be better by preparing the team for the home game, forget the defeat and work on avoiding mistakes."

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 May, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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