08 June 2015 12:22
Egyptian and African football giants Al-Ahly kept alive hopes of retaining the CAF Confederation Cup with a penalty shootout victory over Tunisians Club Africain in a weekend play-off.Ramadan Sobhy converted his shootout spot-kick to give the winners of a record 19 CAF titles a 5-4 victory on penalties at the Stade Olympique in Tunis suburb Rades.
Club Africain had scored eight minutes into stoppage time to win the return match 2-1 and level the aggregate score at 3-3 after Ahly won in Cairo by the same score. Ahly will face two more Tunisian sides, Esperance and Etoile Sahel, in the group stages along with Malians Stade Malien.
The other mini-league comprises Congolese AC Leopards, South Africans Orlando Pirates, Tunisians CS Sfaxien and Egyptians Zamalek.
Buoyant after winning the Tunisian title in midweek, Club Africain needed just seven minutes to go ahead against Ahly through Zouhaier Dhaouadi.
Veteran Emad Meteb levelled on the hour and when tempers flared in the closing stages, Tunisian Hicham Belkaroui and Egyptian Mohamed Hany were red-carded.
More drama unfolded eight minutes into stoppage time when Nader Ghandri regained the lead for Africain and forced a shootout. Former African champions Club Africain were the only one of four Tunisian play-off participants not to progress.
Etoile Sahel trounced Moroccan visitors Raja Casablanca 3-0 at Stade Olympique in Mediterranean resort Sousse to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit. The tie took a crucial turn during 10 first-half minutes when Abdeljalil Jbira of Raja was sent off and Algerian Baghdad Bounedjah bagged a brace for Etoile.
Numerically handicapped Raja prevented further damage until 18 minutes from time when Alaya Brigui scored the tie-clinching third goal.
Mohamed Ali Moncer snatched a late second-half goal to earn record three-time Confederation Cup winners Sfaxien a 1-1 draw against Ivorians ASEC Mimosas in Abidjan. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, ASEC began strongly at Stade Robert Champroux and led after 14 minutes through Bangaly Soumahoro.
Zamalek, whose nine CAF titles makes them the second most successful CAF club behind Ahly, defeated Democratic Republic of Congo outfit Sanga Balende 3-1 in Cairo. A goal behind after the first meeting, the Cairo ‘White Knights’ scored second-half goals through Ayman Hefni and Omar Gaber only to be stung when Musema Ngoma netted for the visitors.
Although trailing 2-1, Balende were ahead on away goals in a match played behind closed doors at the Petro Sport Stadium for security reasons. Zamalek needed a third goal to survive and it came 12 minutes from time via substitute Khaled Kamar.
The six-matchday group stage kicks off late June and continues until mid-September when the top two clubs in each mini-league qualify for the semi-finals.
Group A: Al-Ahly v Esperance, Etoile Sahel v Stade Malien
Group B: AC Leopards v Orlando Pirates, Zamalek v CS Sfaxien
Group A: Esperance v Etoile, Malien v Ahly
Group B: Pirates v Zamalek, Sfaxien v Leopards
Group A: Ahly v Etoile, Esperance v Malien
Group B: Sfaxien v Pirates, Zamalek v Leopards
Group A: Etoile v Ahly, Malien v Esperance
Group B: Leopards v Zamalek, Pirates v Sfaxien
Group A: Esperance v Ahly, Malien v Etoile
Group B: Pirates v Leopards, Sfaxien v Zamalek
Group A: Etoile v Esperance, Ahly v Malien
Group B: Leopards v Sfaxien, Zamalek v Pirates
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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