Egyptian Giants Al Ahly Stunned Mazembe, To Reach CAF Final

The reigning champions, Al Ahly from Egypt, will face off against perennial adversaries Esperance from Tunisia in the upcoming African Champions League final following their victorious semifinal matches on Friday.
Egyptian Giants Al Ahly Stunned Mazembe, To Reach CAF Final | CAF Champions League

Following a goalless first leg in Lubumbashi, the anticipation was high as the return fixture unfolded in Cairo. The drama began when Joel Beya’s 58th-minute header for Ahly was disallowed by VAR due to an earlier infringement. Despite the setback, Marcel Koller’s team, renowned for their prowess in African club football, remained composed.

Responding to the visitors’ threat, Mohamed Abdelmonem’s powerful header in the 68th minute gave Ahly the lead. Late goals from Wissam Abu Ali and Akram Tawfik completed a thrilling turnaround. Tawfik’s strike in the 12th minute of stoppage time ignited jubilant celebrations in the stands, securing Ahly’s place in the final against Esperance.

This victory showcased Ahly’s remarkable big-game mentality, fueled by players like Percy Tau. With hopes of clinching their fourth TotalEnergies CAF Champions League title in five years, Ahly displayed tenacity and quality throughout.

For Mazembe, the disappointment of falling short was compounded by Ahly’s late resurgence. Despite pushing the Egyptians to their limits over two tightly-contested semi-final legs, Mazembe couldn’t secure a final berth. Nevertheless, Ahly’s dramatic victory reaffirms their dominance in African club football, as they aim to maintain their grip on the continent’s most prestigious prize.

In another match a tumultuous start marked the kickoff of the awaited match between Mamelodi Sundowns and ES Tunis, as a lightning strike in South Africa’s capital triggered a 70-minute delay, disrupting the floodlights amidst a fierce thunderstorm.

Mamelodi Sundowns, the champions of the new African Football League season, entered the fray as formidable contenders for the Champions League title. However, despite their prowess, they stumbled short of reaching the final for the eighth consecutive season.

Esperance’s young goalkeeper, 20-year-old Amanallah Memmich, showcased his talent with remarkable saves, thwarting the advances of the South African forwards. Their victory not only dashed Sundowns’ hopes but also secured a coveted spot for Esperance in next year’s Club World Cup in the United States.

With the stage set for the final showdown, Esperance will host the first leg on May 18, with the return leg scheduled in Cairo seven days later. Esperance, boasting four Champions League titles and four-time runners-up, are poised to reclaim glory after their last triumph in 2019.

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