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- Al Ahly recently won their first CAF Champions League title since 2013
- They defeated arch-rivals Zamalek to capture a FIFA Club World Cup
- FIFA.com reviews their ninth conquest
Over the past three years, Al Ahly has experienced disappointments that may have sunk smaller clubs. The Egyptian giants saw the CAF Champions League title dodge them at the last hurdle in consecutive seasons – first in 2017 when they were beaten 2-1 by Wydad Casablanca, and then in 2018 when they fell to a 3-0 defeat away to Esperance, after winning the first stage 3-1 in Cairo.
Al Ahly’s campaign ended in the quarterfinals in 2019 amid an overall 5-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns, but the Red Devils were not about to give up their dreams of securing their ninth title.
Unrestrained by these setbacks, and despite all the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the tournament delayed by several months before the semifinals, Al Ahly kept their nerve and eventually won a trophy that had escaped them since 2013.
Al Ahly drove into the group stage and sent Atlabara from South Sudan and Cano Sport of Equatorial Guinea before losing their first group stage 1-0 away to Etoile du Sahel in Tunisia. Home wins over Al Hilal from Sudan, 2-1 and 2-0 over Platinum in Zimbabwe were followed by a valuable point scored by a 1-1 draw in the return match in Zimbabwe.
The Red Devils then took revenge on Etoile du Sahel via a 1-0 home win before securing second place in the group and a place in the knockout phase via a 1-1 draw at Al Hilal.
In the quarter-finals, Al Ahly avenged their defeat in 2019 against Mamelodi Sundowns by beating them 2-0 in Cairo before drawing 1-1 in Pretoria. In the final four, the Red Devils threw together Wydad Casablanca 5-1 overall before defeating arch-rivals Zamalek 2-1 in a memorable final. Amr El Soleya put the Red Devils ahead, Shikabala equalized for Zamalek before Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy scored the late winner for Ahly.
What they said
“Along with the final, the quarter-final against Sundowns was the toughest challenge because we wanted to avenge last year’s defeat. We won the final against Zamalek despite not playing as well as we did against Wydad in the semi-final. Mosimane knows Africa well and he made the Champions League title his main goal. “
Hussein El Shahat, Al Ahly forward
“Zamalek were better in the final and I was not surprised when Shikabala scored the equalizer because they pressed hard. The opposite happened in the Egyptian Super Cup when we played better, but Zamalek won. “
Mohamed el shenawy, Al Ahly goalkeeper
Did you know?
Al Ahly has experienced highs and lows in the hands of Pitso Mosimane. The South African leader of the Mamelodi Sundowns when they eliminated Al Ahly in 2019, but was named head coach of the Red Devils before the semi-finals in 2020.
The number of titles Al Ahly claimed in 2020. Together with the Champions League, they won their domestic league and the Egyptian cup to complete a historic treble.