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Sherif strikes twice as Ahly survive CAF Champions League scare

Johannesburg (AFP) – Mohamed Sherif scored twice as holders Al Ahly of Egypt claimed three crucial points by beating Al Merrikh of Sudan 3-2 in a CAF Champions League group match in Cairo on Saturday.

Victory lifted Ahly, who are hoping to win the marquee African club competition a record third consecutive time, to second in Group A, level with Merrikh on four points but ahead on head-to-head records. 

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa top the table with seven points from three matches following a shock away victory over Ahly last weekend and the clubs clash again on March 12.

At the other end of the standings, Al Hilal of Sudan have just one point and must defeat arch domestic rivals Merrikh in Omdurman this Friday to have any hope of a top-two finish and a quarter-finals place.

Egypt international Sherif struck after three and 34 minutes at the Al Salam Stadium to convert the supremacy of the 10-time Champions League winners into a two-goal advantage.

But Merrikh, whose best showing was reaching the 2015 semi-finals, halved the deficit two minutes before half-time through Nigerian Tony Edjomariegwe.

Although Ahly continued to dominate possession in the second half, they were stunned on 69 minutes when Elsamani Saadeldin levelled with his third goal in two Champions League matches.

Ahly recovered to win the match through an own goal 14 minutes from time when Mustafa Karshoum deflected an Amr Elsoulia shot past goalkeeper Monged Abuzaid.

The match was originally scheduled for February 12, but delayed because Ahly were competing in the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, where they finished third.

Matchdays four and five are set for March 11-12 and 18-19 with the final mini-league series on April 1-2. Winners and runners-up in the four groups advance to the knockout phase.    

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