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Front-runners once more
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 29 - 04 - 2014

Ahli's fans were kept at the edge of their seats throughout the team's African contender against Difaa Hassani El Jadida till the 95th minute of the match when Ahli's Ahmed Raouf was able to score the team's sole goal to end the match losing 2-1. Ahli nevertheless were able to qualify to the group phase through the away goal rule thus safeguarding hopes in the CAF Confederation Championship after losing all stakes in the African Champions League Championship at the hands of Ahli Benghazi of Libya. Ahli won the first leg of their play-off against Difaa El-Jadida 1-0.
Ahli is under pressure to win the CAF Confederation Cup title as Egyptian teams have been absent for 11 years from its titles' stand.
Ahli players started the match that was played on Mohamed Abdi Satdium on guard as they followed team's head coach, Mohamed Youssef's, instructions to play defensively to cut down the opponent's scoring chances. This was applied perfectly in the first half, but tables turned in the second as the Moroccans gained the upper hand scoring twice through Ahmed Chagou and Johan Lengoualama. It was only in the stoppage time of the match that Raouf revived Ahli's hopes, leading them to qualify to the most important phase of the competition. Youssef was jubilant, saying that the team needed such a victory to give the players self-confidence especially after losing in the Champions League. “I think they did their best and they followed my instructions to the utmost and I hope we will be able to make it to the final,” he said.
According to cafonline, Nigerians Bayelsa United crashed out of the Confederation Cup, losing 3-0 on aggregate to Ivorians Sewe San Pedro. Ghanaians Medeama have home advantage as they try to wipe out a 2-0 loss against Congolese side AC Leopards.
On the other hand, CAF announced its draw for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers at the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football in Cairo, Egypt. Defending champions Nigeria have drawn South Africa in one of seven qualifying groups. North African rivals Tunisia and Egypt will face each other. Ghana will meet Togo, and Ivory Coast and Cameroon are drawn together.
Three teams were drawn in each group at Sunday's ceremony. A fourth team will emerge from two more qualifying rounds.
Eventually, the group winners and runners-up will go through to the 2015 finals, as will the best third-placed side and the hosts Morocco.
First round:
Liberia v Lesotho
Kenya v Comoros Islands
Madagascar v Uganda
Mauritania v Equatorial Guinea
Namibia v Congo
Libya v Rwanda
Burundi v Botswana
Central African Republic v Guinea Bissau
Swaziland v Sierra Leone
Gambia v Seychelles
Sao Tome e Principe v Benin
Malawi v Chad
Tanzania v Zimbabwe
Mozambique v South Sudan
These are all two-legged qualifiers, with the team named first hosting the opening leg on the weekend of 16-18 May. The return leg will be played on the weekend of 30-31 May and 1 June. The aggregate winners advance to the second round.
Second round:
Liberia or Lesotho v Kenya or Comoros Islands
Madagascar or Uganda v Mauritania or Equatorial Guinea
Namibia or Congo v Libya or Rwanda
Burundi or Botswana v Central African Republic or Guinea Bissau
Swaziland or Sierra Leone v Gambia or Seychelles
Sao Tome e Principe or Benin v Malawi or Chad
Tanzania or Zimbabwe v Mozambique or South Sudan
These are all two-legged qualifiers, with the team named first hosting the opening leg on the weekend of 18-20 July. The return leg will be played on the weekend of 1-3 August. The aggregate winners advance to the group stage.
Group Stage:
Group A : Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa - plus winners of: Namibia vs Congo Brazzaville/Libya vs Rwanda
Group B : Mali, Ethiopia, Algeria - plus winners of: Sao Tome e Principe vs Benin/Malawi vs Chad
Group C: Burkina Faso, Gabon, Angola - plus winners of: Liberia vs Lesotho/Kenya vs Comoros Islands
Group D: Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon - plus winners of: Swaziland vs Sierra Leone/Gambia vs. Seychelles
Group E: Ghana, Guinea, Togo - plus winners of: Madagascar vs Uganda/Mauritania vs Equatorial Guinea
Group F: Zambia, Niger, Cape Verde Islands - plus winners of: Tanzania vs Zimbabwe/Mozambique vs South Sudan
Group G: Tunisia, Senegal, Egypt - plus winners of: Burundi vs Botswana/ Central African Republic vs Guinea Bissau
The top two countries in each group, plus the best third-placed finisher qualify for the finals along with the hosts Morocco.
The group matches will be played 5-6 September and 10 September; 10-11 October and 15 October; 14-15 November and 19 November.

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