Betway

Defending champions Al Ahly scored all the goals in the second half as they saw off Sudanese champions Al Mereikh 3-0 at the Cairo International Stadium on Tuesday to start their Total CAF Champions League group stage campaign in emphatic fashion.

Mohamed Magdy Afsha, Walter Bwalya and Mahmoud Kahraba scored the goals as the home side moved top of the group ahead of Tanzanian champions Simba on goal difference.

Ahly had most of the chances and would feel aggrieved going back to the dressing room for the break without a goal. They had the chances to score, but a combination of unlucky finishing and good goalkeeping from Monged Salman kept them at bay.

The Red Devils had a chance in the sixth minute when Walter Bwalya nodded down Mahmoud Wahed’s cross from the right, but Magdy Afsha’s low header from the edge of the six yard box went wide.

Mahmoud Kahraba had another chance for Ahly in the 14th minute with a shot on the half volley from inside the box going just over. The home side continued to pound and Kahraba had another chance saved by the keeper in the 26th minute.

Off another Waheed cross, Bwalya nodded the ball down again this time to the Ahly number seven, but the keeper punched away his connection from an outstretched foot. The defending champions continued to force Mereikh to play on the backfoot and Bwalya was next in the line of chances, this time his shot from the edge of the area being blocked for a corner.

Three minutes to the break they were close again, this time their swift counter attacking play seeing Aliou Dieng tee the ball up for Mohamed Hany, but the rightback’s shot went just over the bar.

In the second half, the floodgates opened for Ahly. After Waheed had hit the side netting and Oluwafemi Ajayi had volleyed wide, Afsha opened the scoring in the 56th minute with a strong bouncing header off a Hany cross.

The visitors almost drew level two minutes later but Elsamani Saadeldin’s cracking left footed shot was turned behind for a corner by Mohamed Elshenawy.

Smelling danger, Ahly were thrust to extend their lead and they did so in the 62nd minute when Kahraba toe poked the ball beyond the keeper after being sent through by a brilliant Ajayi through ball.

Eight minutes later, they were safely away when Bwalya made it 3-0 with a powerful left footed shot inside the box after beating the offside trap to race to a wonderfully laid ball from Amr Elsoulia.

It seemed all over for Mereikh but they still had some fight left in them and came close to reducing the deficit in the 77th minute, but Elshenawy showed his class with a brilliant save to deny Darren Mattocks at point blank after his first effort off a Saifeldin Bakhit cross hit the bar.

Substitute Tony Omayarue came closest to bagging one at the stroke of full time but his strong header off Ahmed Ahmed’s freekick came crushing against the crossbar.

Source: CAF

www.sports24ghana.com