19 Mar 2023, 09:17

Reprieve for Ahly as Hilal draw after missing penalty

JOHANNESBURG, March 19, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Al Ahly of Egypt remain contenders for a record-extending 11th CAF Champions League title after Al Hilal of Sudan missed an added-time penalty that would have eliminated the Cairo club.

Hilal needed to beat already-qualified Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the 35 degree Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) heat of Omdurman to secure the other quarter-finals place from Group B.

But substitute Ather el Tahir saw his tamely struck spot-kick saved by Ronwen Williams, the match finished 1-1, and Ahly can pip Hilal for the other ticket to the knockout stage.

Sundowns have 11 points, Hilal 10, Ahly seven and Coton Sport of Cameroon none with the final round of mini-league fixtures scheduled for March 31 and April 1.

Hilal, twice runners-up in the premier African club competition, will qualify if they win, draw, or score in a loss by one goal when they face Ahly in Cairo.

Finalists in five of the last six Champions League editions, Ahly can progress either by winning 1-0 or by two or more goals.

After a humiliating 5-2 loss at Sundowns last weekend, Ahly had stormed back into contention by hammering Coton 4-0 in Garoua on Friday with Mahmoud Kahraba notching a hat-trick.

Title-holders Wydad and Raja Casablanca of Morocco, Chabab Belouizdad and JS Kabylie of Algeria, Esperance of Tunisia, Simba of Tanzania and Sundowns have secured last-eight places.

- Closed doors -

Hilal and Sundowns played behind closed doors after Sudanese supporters invaded the pitch and threw fireworks during an Ahly training session in Omdurman last month.

Khuliso Mudau pounced on a rebound off a free-kick to fire Sundowns in front on 67 minutes and Mohamed Abdelrahman equalised five minutes later after dispossessing hesitant Williams.

Ordinarily, Abdelrahman would have taken the penalty, but he had been substituted, leaving El Tahir to slump to the ground, hands covering his face, after squandering a chance to be the hero.

Kabylie, whose last of two Champions League titles came in 1990, advanced from Group A after a 90th-minute Dadi Mouaki goal delivered a 1-0 win over 2022 semi-finalists Petro Luanda of Angola.

Wydad will be in the knockout stage for the eighth season running after drawing 0-0 away to V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the same section.

Simba fell one goal short of equalling the record winning margin for a group match when they overwhelmed Horoya of Guinea 7-0 in Group C.

Zambian Clatous Chama led the Dar es Salaam goal romp with a hat-trick and Congolese Jean Baleke and Malian Sadio Kanoute scored two each.

Five-time African champions TP Mazembe of DR Congo hold the record for the widest winning margin after crushing Tunisian visitors Club Africain 8-0 four seasons ago.


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