Egyptian and African club giants, Al Ahly defeated local rivals Zamalek to win the CAF Champions League for a record 9th time.
Ahly, who went into the game with some key players missing after testing positive for COVID-19 raised the curtains as early as the 5th minute. The Egyptian champions scored through an Al-Sulaya header as they aimed to end their 7-year drought of continental success.
Zamalek thereafter showed more commitment to having the ball and had crisp passing all night in the Cairo derby at the magnificent Cairo International Stadium.
Lively Abdelrazek Shikabala’s beautiful solo effort helped Zamalek level in the 31st minute as they got rewarded for their better possession and urgency.
The second half saw a more stoked match with players of both teams putting their bodies on the line on many occasions.
Ahly improved after the break, and took the game to Zamalek who have been continental champions three times. Nigeria’s Junior Ajayi was lost to injury shortly after the break but it did little to stop Ahly from showing greater purpose.
The game got settled on the 86th minute as Ahly’s Mohammed Magdy scored an all-important winner to hand a 9th continental triumph to the Egyptians.
The game tagged “derby of the century” lived up to hype as a rare football spectacle was seen on a night where the team with a stroke of luck and experience won.
Ahly’s South African coach Pitso Mosimane underlined his status as the best coach in Africa as he has now won the continental showpiece with two different teams in two different countries.
He won the CAF Champions League with Premier Soccer League side, Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016 before his newest success with Al Ahly.
“Zamalek have a good team, they played well and gave us a big scare, they made us play better in the second half because they were stronger in the first,” Mosimane said after the game.
“They played like us, that’s the way we play but yeah, Al Ahly fans, I need to say to them that this is my gift to them. This Champions League trophy is there’s, they deserve it.”
The former Bafana Bafana boss further dedicated the success to the passionate supporters.
“I hope Inshallah that corona passes and we can have them in the stadiums again,” he said. “They deserve this trophy, they have waited for long, every week they came to the training sessions.
“Every day, everywhere I go they said ‘please win the trophy, please win the trophy’. The trophy is there now, there’s the trophy, maybe I can be a free man now [laughs].”