Egypt’s Al Ahly defeated Cameroonians Coton Sport in the semi-final return leg of Caf Champions after a penalty shootout that ended 7-6 in favour of the Red Devils
Egyptian club Al Ahly have qualified for the final of the 2013 Caf Champions League after scrambling a 7-6 victory over Coton Sport of Cameroon on Sunday in El Gouda.
Both sides were forced into a penalty shootout after a perfect 2-2 draw on aggregate at the end of the semi-final return leg, played behind closed doors.
With an away goal advantage from the first leg that ended in a 1-1 draw in Garoua, Cameroon, two weeks ago, Al Ahly quickly dominated the opening exchanges against Coton Sport and grabbed a goal in the third minute when Sayed Mowad, who was manning the team’s first foray into the visitors’ area, whipped a cross from the left flank, with Abdallah El-Said towering above two defenders to head home his effort.
The Cotonners were unable to react immediately as they came under more assaults from their hosts, who missed a couple of clear cut chances to increase the 1-0 lead.
Scintillating interplays between Mohamed Abou-Treika and winger Walid Soliman failed to yield in front of Coton’s goal and by the 20th minute the Cameroonians began to find their rhythm and staged a couple of troubling counters.
Ahly's right-back Ahmed Fathi single-handedly thwarted a number of incursions from the 2008 finalists, with goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami doing his best to preserve their lone goal lead.
With Coton on the ascendancy by the half hour mark, Emmanuel Mbongo grabbed his side’s best chance when he moved past Mohamed Naguib and lunged into Ahly’s box, but his low finish from a tight angle was blocked by Ekrami.
Immediately after, a beautiful chance fell to Mbongo once more, when he claimed a loose ball that eluded Ekrami in the box but was quickly dispossessed by Abdel-Fadil.
Coton’s Jean Bapidi was also close to pulling level for his side but a sprawling Ekrami palmed away his effort to keep the score at 1-0 in favour of his side by the break.
The visitors maintained domination into the second half, with Jusly Boukama-Kaya creating the first goal opportunity when he ran onto a long cross and drifted into Al Ahly’s area but Shehab Ahmed tackled from behind, getting a yellow card for the nasty challenge.
After more pressure on the Egyptians, Coton claimed the leveller in the 65th minute through unmarked Kada Yougouda, who connected a low cross from the left that evaded defender Abdel-Fadil before chipping his finish into an open net to put the scoreline at 1-1.
Al Ahly thereafter piled pressure on the visitors, whose desperate defending helped to hold onto the 2-2 aggregate.
With Caf regulations not allowing extra time at this level, both sides went into the penalty shootout.
Ahly’s Abou-Treika and Yougouda fluffed their spot kicks to maintain the suspense after the first five, while in the follow up, Jacques Haman sent his over the crossbar to gift Ahly the victory on 7-6.
Al Ahly will now face South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in the final of the 2013 Caf Champions League.