Egyptian side Al Ahly and defending champions Esperance from Tunisia settled the first leg of the 2012 Caf Champions League on a 1-1 draw on Sunday in Alexandria
Six-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt were forced to a 1-1 draw by visiting Esperance Tunis in the first leg of the 2012 Caf Champions League final played on Sunday at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria.
The Egyptians, who last won the competition in 2008, were hoping to obtain a solid lead over the 1994 and 2011 winners ahead of the return leg but the Tunisians, who arrived short of playmaker Youssef Msakni and a couple of key players, were able to hold their ground across the first half, which ended goalless despite strong-willed efforts from the hosts to notch up an opening goal to reassure their fans who were allowed to attend the game despite a closed-door ban imposed on football meetings nationwide by the authorities.
Much was expected from Geddo and Mohamed Aboutrika, who was returning from a two-match suspension, but their efforts were always thwarted by a hermetic defence and a compact midfield set up by the opposing team, which was able to contain much of the threats in the back half throughout the encounter.
Former CA Bizertin defender Walid Hichri doused the effervescent 15,000 home crowd when he headed home a corner kick two minutes from the break to compound issues for the Red Devils, who consequently resorted to a massive attacking pattern in search of an equaliser and an eventual winner.
The session later settled into a back and forth aimless movement of balls and players that aggravated the frustration of the locals and served as a morale booster for the visitors, who had time ticking in their favour.
Egypt international Al-Sayed Hamdy levelled for Ahly three minutes from fulltime to revive hopes for an open return leg, which logically tilts in favour of Esperance, who will likely leave no stone unturned on the pitch come November 17 in Tunis to conserve their title.