Egypt's Zamalek through as holders Ahly suffer shock exit
Defending champions and record eight-time winners Al Ahly from Egypt have been knocked out of this year's African Champions League, but their compatriots, Zamalek, have progressed.
The Cairo 'Red Devils' lost the second leg of their last sixteen tie 2-3 to Libyans Al Ahli Benghazi, having lost the first leg 1-0, courtesy of Edward Sadomba's goal (pictured).
It means that Al Ahly, who were aiming for a third successive triumph, go out 4-2 on aggregate. Al Ahli Benghazi go through to the lucrative group phase.
As do five-times former winners Zamalek, who were 5-0 winners over Nkana of Zambia in their second leg thanks to goals from Ahmed Tawfiq, Moemen Zakaria, Omar Gaber, Hazem Emam and Ahmed Gaafar. The first leg in Zambia had ended goal-less. The Cairo 'White Knights' had won the four previous meetings between the two sides dating back to 1984.
The overall losers from the second legs drop into the Confederation Cup, where they will face a two-legged play-off to reach the group phase of that competition.
Al-Ahly were on course to succeed against their Libyan opponents when Mohamed Naguib side-footed a cut-back across Benghazi goalkeeper Wissem El-Boudi into the corner of the net for the opening goal in the 38th minute. However, three minutes later Egyptian captain Hossam Ashour fouled Zimbabwe's Sadomba and Abdulrahman Fetori converted the penalty.
Ahly had to score at least twice more under the away-goals rule to avoid a first exit at the qualifying stage since losing to Nigerians Kano Pillars five years ago.
It was Benghazi who scored twice instead to take the tie away from the African champions. Ahly surrendered possession in midfield and a cross-field pass found Abdel Hafiz, who unleashed a thunderbolt past goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy.
A patient build-up led to the third Libyan goal six minutes later with El-Mahdy curling a shot over Ekramy from the edge of the box.
To add to Ahly's woes, veteran midfielder Ahmed Fathy was sent off for a reckless lunge. Unmarked Egyptian Amr Gamal nodded past El-Boudy 13 minutes from time, but it was too little, too late, and the Libyans held on for a famous victory.
Benghazi made no impression in their other Champions League appearances and have been forced to play home games in neighbouring Tunisia because of Libyan insecurity.
Al-Ittihad are the only Libyan club to previously reach the group stage, and progressed to the 2007 semi-finals before losing to Ahly.
Ahly's exit from the Champions League comes on a pivotal weekend for the Egyptian club who will also vote in a new board of directors. Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef has said he will need to meet them urgently to discuss the way forward for the club.
Elsewhere on Saturday, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo became the first club to reach the group stages of this year's African Champions League, narrowly edging past Ivory Coast's Sewe San Pedro.
Mazembe, four-time Champions League winners, had substitute Mbwana Ally Samatta (pictured) to thank for their qualification, after he scored the vital goal in a 1-nil victory at home. The Tanzanian also scored a last-gasp away goal in their 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Abidjan last weekend.
Mazembe failed to take advantage of an early second-half penalty in the mining city Lubumbashi with Zambian Jonas Sakuwaha having his kick blocked. The tie ended 2-2 on aggregate with TP Mazembe progressing on the away goals rule.
For the first time, another DR Congo club will also be in the group stage alongside Mazembe, after AS Vita Club knocked out South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs. Vita lost 2-0 to the South Africans in Soweto, but squeezed through on aggregate having built a three-goal first-leg lead in Kinshasa.
Zimbabwean Knowledge Musona gave Chiefs the perfect start with a ninth-minute goal, but first-half injuries to him and goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse disrupted the home team. It was not until the last minute that the South Africans scored again with defender Morgan Gould heading past goalkeeper Herve Lombolo.
Sfaxien of Tunisia maintained a perfect record in the competition this season with a 2-0 win over Guineans Horoya in the Mediterranean city of Sfax. Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, scorer of the lone first-leg goal in west Africa, and Mohamed Ali Moncer were on target for the 2006 Champions League runners-up. Sfaxien won 3-0 on aggregate.
The 1988 African champions Entente Setif of Algeria were 1-0 winners away to Cameroonians Coton Sport, who were runners-up in 2008. The Algerians won the tie 2-0 on aggregate.
Tunisians Esperance also progressed, with a 3-0 win over Mali's Real Bamako. The first leg had ended 1-1.
Sudan's Al Hilal reached the group stages on the away goals rule after they drew 0-0 in Omdurman with Leopards of Congo-Brazzaville, the first leg had ended deadlocked at 1-1.