Al-Ahly win African Champions League thanks to late Magdy goal

Al-Ahly win African Champions League thanks to late Magdy goal
Al-Ahly's Ayman Ashraf celebrates with the CAF Champions League trophy and teammates after winning the final against Zamalek in Cairo. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 November 2020

Al-Ahly win African Champions League thanks to late Magdy goal

Al-Ahly win African Champions League thanks to late Magdy goal
  • Magdy struck as stoppage time loomed behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic

CAIRO: A late goal from Mohamed 'Afsha' Magdy gave Al-Ahly a dramatic 2-1 victory over Zamalek on Friday in an all-Egyptian CAF Champions League final in Cairo.

Magdy struck as stoppage time loomed behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic after Amr El-Soleya had given Ahly an early lead and 'Shikabala' scored a magnificent equaliser before half-time.

With 85 minutes gone, Magdy controlled the ball with his knee outside the area and hammered it into the net to earn Ahly a record-extending ninth Champions League title and first since 2013.

The climax was in keeping with a thrilling final that completed a competition which began in August last year and was constantly delayed by Covid-19.

Success for Ahly meant South African Pitso Mosimane became only the third coach after Argentine Oscar Fullone and Egyptian Mahmoud El-Gohary to win the Champions League title with two clubs.

Mosimane guided Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa to a 3-1 aggregate victory over Zamalek in the 2016 title decider.

Before the kick off in a stadium that would normally be packed to its 74,000 capacity for a Cairo derby, both teams observed a moment of silence in honour of Argentine icon Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday.

Ahly took a fifth-minute lead when Amr El-Soleya rose to powerfully head a corner kick into the net after goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal had conceded the set piece under pressure from Hussein el Shahat.

Boosted by the dream start, the Cairo Red Devils use both wings to keep the White Knights under pressure in the first Champions League final featuring clubs from the same country.

When Zamalek did push forward they were no match for an Ahly defence that conceded just six goals in 14 matches en route to the final.

But any disappointment Zamalek supporters experienced as they watched the match live on national television disappeared after 31 minutes thanks to 'Shikabala'.

One of many Egyptian footballers who favour a nickname over their official name, in his case Mahmoud Abdelrazek Hassan Fadlala, 'Shikabala' levelled with a memorable solo goal.

Receiving possession on the touchline, he burst between two Ahly defenders, took the ball across another, then smashed a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.

Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy barely moved such was the power and speed of a shot that produced one of the greatest goals in the 55-year history of CAF Champions League finals.

Under the cosh for much of the opening half, Zamalek would have been the happier team trooping off the pitch at half-time in a contest living up to its billing of the 'derby of the century'.

Ahly should have regained the lead eight minutes into the second half but El-Shahat hits a post with an unguarded goal in front of him and Mahmoud Ibrahim cleared.

The woodwork came into play again midway through the half, this time preventing Zamalek taking the lead as Ahmed 'Zizo' Sayed watched his shot cannon off a post.

As the frantic pace inevitably slackened, El-Soleya was yellow carded for fouling Sayed and Zamalek had a penalty appeal rejected by the Algerian referee.

Then, after 54 minutes with the sides equal, Magdy scored his third goal of the African campaign to give Ahly a record-extending 20th CAF title.


Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil
Updated 19 January 2021

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil
  • The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, has not played since March 2020

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has hailed the “genius” of Mesut Ozil after the Arsenal outcast confirmed he was leaving the Premier League club to join Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

The former Arsenal boss signed the German playmaker in 2013 but the relationship has turned sour under current manager Mikel Arteta.

The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, on a reported weekly salary of £350,000 ($475,000), has not played since March 2020. But Wenger said the former Germany international, who won the World Cup in 2014, was a rare talent.

“Mesut is like if you imagine an orchestra in music,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports Turkey.

“He’s a guy who plays the ball at the right time. The timing of his pass is exceptional, but the creativity of his pass is as well.

“In every situation he confronts, he gives the right answer and that is genius.”

Ozil has claimed he is in good physical condition despite his lengthy period on the sidelines but Wenger said his former player would take a few games to build up his “competitive fitness.”

“If his basic fitness in training is good, it will only take him three or four games to be at his best,” said Wenger.

“The quality that he has is... vision in depth. He sees quickly, he decides quickly and he realizes quickly what he sees. That is a quality you don’t find too often in our game.”

Wenger said Ozil would strengthen Fenerbahce’s bid to win the Turkish league for the first time since 2013/14.

“I’m sure that he’s frustrated at not having played,” he said. “His hunger must be absolutely (enormous) to play football again.

“Mesut is a guy who needs a warm environment and I believe he will find that more than anywhere else in Turkey.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the holders’ first-round exit at the 2018 tournament, he ended his international career.

Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently second in the Turkish Super Lig behind Besiktas.