Egypt’s Al-Ahly beat Township Rollers 1-0 in the CAF Champions League clash played under floodlights on Saturday at the National Stadium.
This is the first home game loss to Rollers in the competition since losing 2-1 to Kaizer Chiefs in 2015 whilst it cements the Blues at the third place in Group A with just three points.
The two sides met just a fortnight after Al-Ahly registered a resounding 3-0 win over Popa in Egypt, but the home side could not manage a sweet revenge over the weekend.
Rollers came into the match missing the defensive duo of Simisane Mathumo and Mosha Gaolaolwe who are both serving suspensions.
In a night where the local boys were promising, the difference was a goal from the set piece in the dying minutes of the game.
It took a minute into the game for the visitors to show their intention with Oluwafemi Ajayi trying Keeagile Kgosipula from outside, the keeper was up to the task. Rollers started to find their feet in the game.
Lemponye Tshireletso with his trademark long-range shot could not find the target, as the shot went wide in the 12th-minute. The visitors suffered an injury blow, as Ajayi was stretched off after a clash with Maano Ditshupo. Islam Mohareb replaced him on the 30th-minute.
Neither side could manage to connect well in the final, as the teams went into break level at 0-0.
From half time both sides looked to put the coaches’ instructions into practice with local side having much of the ball possession in the first
minutes of the half but could not break the Red Devils’ defence. On the 65th-minute, Tshireletso tried again from outside the box.
The shot nearly caught the keeper out, but he recovered and parried for
The visitors eventually broke the deadlock in the 82nd-minute with centre back Salif Coulibaly rising above his markers to head home a cross, giving his side the
lead with just eight minutes to time.
Two minutes later, Moamed Eldawy from cross, tried with a volley, but Kgosipula collected well. Popa tried to get back into the game, but the visitors stood firm as they bagged the valuable three points on the night.
Speaking in a post-match press conference Al Ahly coach, Patrice Cateron said the aim was to get the maximum points rather than playing good football on the night.
“We never set out how we will play or how to defend, but all that would be determined by how the opponents play. In the end it was a tough game, as we had anticipated, but winning was more important above playing good football on the day,” he said.
His counterpart, Rollers’ coach Nikola Kavazovic said he was proud of his players on the night as he said the team’s chances of qualifying to
the next stage were “more than impossible”.
Rollers: Keeagile Kgosipula, Ivan Ntenge, Obuile Ncenga, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Kaone van der Westuhuizen, Ofentse Nato, Maano Ditshupo, Motsholetsi Sikele (Segolame Boy), Edwin Moalosi (Boyo Lechaena), Lemponye Tshireletso, Joel Mogorosi
Al Ahly: Mohamed Elshanawy, Salif Coulibaly, Moamed Eldawy, Oualid Azaro, Walid Ebeid, Amro Elsoulia, Samir Ali, Ali Maaloul, Hosaam Ashour, Oluwafemi Ajayi (Islam Mohareb), Mohamed Elmerdash (Hesham Mohamed)
Al Ahly 1 (Coulibaly 82nd)