Johannesburg (AFP) – South African coach Pitso Mosimane finally achieved an away victory over his bogey club, Wydad Casablanca, as Al Ahly won a CAF Champions League semi-final first leg 2-0 Saturday.
Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy gave the Egyptian team a fourth-minute lead and Ali Maaloul increased it by converting a second-half penalty after the Moroccan side missed a spot-kick.
The result virtually assures record eight-time African champions Ahly of a place in the final on November 6 against Cairo neighbours Zamalek or Raja Casablanca.
Raja host Zamalek Sunday in the first leg of the second semi-final at the same Casablanca stadium where Ahly triumphed more comfortably than expected.
It was the first home defeat for Wydad in 27 Champions League matches as Ahly avenged losing to the Moroccan outfit in the 2017 final.
Mosimane quit Pretoria club Melodial Sundowns last month to become the first sub-Saharan African coach of 113-year-old Ahly.
The move offered him a chance to end the Wydad jinx as he took Sundowns to Casablanca four times in three Champions League seasons from 2017 and they lost each time.
The South African inherited the most demanding club coaching post in Africa when Swiss Rene Weiler failed to agree terms for a renewal of his one-year contract.
Mosimane succeeded in style as Ahly bossed the first leg and sharper finishing would have given them a more decisive victory in a spectator-less match owing to the coronavirus.
– ‘Special victory’ –
“This is a special victory for the players, technical staff, officials, employees and supporters of Al Ahly,” the South African told AFP.
“We travelled to Morocco full of respect for Wydad because they have won this competition twice and rarely lose at home, either in domestic or CAF competitions.
“Scoring so early was a perfect start for us and Mohamed (El Shena wy) did brilliantly to save a penalty.
“When we were awarded a penalty I had great faith in Ali (Maaloul) because he is so cool, confident and skilful when it comes to scoring from the spot.
“Football is a funny game and we dare not take anything for granted despite this wonderful result. It is half-time in the semi-final and we hold a two-goal advantage.”
A blunder by Yahya Jabrane allowed ‘Afsha’ to put Ahly ahead and when the Moroccan handled, Maaloul scored from the 62nd-minute penalty.
Wydad squandered a chance to equalise just before half-time when El Shenawy saved a Badie Aouk penalty, and also a follow-up shot when the ball ran loose.
Although Ahly have an unmatched record in the Champions League, the Cairo Red Devils have not lifted the trophy since defeating Orlando Pirates of South Africa in the 2013 final.
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