African Champions League: Ahly through to quarter-finals after tense draw in Sudan

Caf Champions League trophy
The African Champions League trophy

Mohamed Magdy scored his first African Champions League goal this season for Al Ahly of Egypt as they drew 1-1 at Al Hilal of Sudan on Saturday to book a quarter-final place.

In a tense match where emotion in the crowd threatened to disrupt proceedings, Magdy scored on 49 minutes in Omdurman with Abdelrazag Omer levelling six minutes into stoppage time.

It set up a nail-biting climax to the final match in Group B.

Had Hilal scored again they would have qualified for the knockout phase at the expense of record eight-time African champions Ahly.

Only the group winners and runners-up qualified for the quarter-finals.

A routine 2-0 win for Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia at home to Platinum of Zimbabwe gave them first place in the group with 12 points, followed by Ahly with 11 and Hilal with 10.

Champions League leading scorer Karim Aribi bagged his 10th goal of the campaign just after half-time for Etoile to break the deadlock against Platinum and Malek Baayou added a second.

Etoile will be seeded for the last-eight draw with the other group winners, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Esperance of Tunisia.

Ahly, fellow Egyptians Zamalek and Casablanca clubs Wydad and Raja are in the other half of the draw, and all eight title contenders have won the elite African club competition.

Ahly can boast of eight titles, Mazembe and Zamalek (five each), Esperance (four), Raja (three), Wydad (two) and Etoile and Sundowns (one each).

Aside from Group B, the only other outstanding issue going into the final group games was the contest for first place in Group C between Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad Casablanca.

Sundowns needed only a draw against Wydad to stay top of the table, but collected all three thanks to a 1-0 win in Pretoria courtesy of a penalty converted by Brazilian Ricardo Nascimento.

Dominant Sundowns should have won by a wider margin against Wydad, who nearly stole a draw at the death with Kazadi Kasengu having a header brilliantly saved by Denis Onyango.

This was the 10th meeting between the clubs in four consecutive editions of the Champions League with Wydad winning four, Sundowns three, and three were drawn.

Although in opposite halves of the draw, they will not meet again in the quarter-finals as the rules bar clubs from the same group being paired.

There will not be any ties involving teams from the same country either as the Tunisian survivors are top seeds and the Egyptian and Moroccan contenders are all second seeds.

Elsewhere, there was a dramatic climax to the match in Algiers where USM Alger appeared set for a first win in Group C until Hermenegildo 'Picas' Sengui and Brazilian Antonio 'Tony' Ribeiro scored within 60 seconds for Petro Luanda to snatch a 2-2 draw.

The draw for the knockout phase takes place in Cairo on 5 February.

African Champions League 1 February 2020:

Group A:

(Q) TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 3-1 Zesco Utd (Zambia)

Primeiro de Agosto (Angola) 0-0 (Q) Zamalek (Egypt)

Group B:

(Q) Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) 2-0 Platinum (Zimbabwe)

Al Hilal (Sudan) 1-1 (Q) Al Ahly (Egypt)

Group C:

(Q) Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) 1-0 (Q) Wydad Casablanca (MAR)

USM Alger (Algeria) 2-2 Petro Luanda (Angola)

Group D:

JS Kabylie (Algeria) 1-0 (Q) Esperance (Tunisia, holders)

(Q) Raja Casablanca (Morocco) 1-0 AS Vita Club (DR Congo)

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