Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ahly see Stars as South African minnows triumph

in General Soccer News 26 Apr 2008

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Edward Williams scored in stoppage time to give minnows Platinum Stars of South Africa a shock 2-1 win over mighty Al-Ahly of Egypt in the African Champions League on Saturday.

The mismatch on paper developed into a second-half thriller at Super Stadium near Pretoria as Koketso Mmotong gave Stars a 57th-minute lead only for Emad Moteab to equalise eight minutes before full-time.

But one minute into injury time Williams triggered wild celebrations among the small crowd on a warm autumn afternoon when he brushed aside an Ahmed al-Sayed challenge to drive the ball past Amir Abdelhamid from close range.

It was the first victory by a South African club over Ahly in the premier African Football Confederation club competition with Stars succeeding where Mamelodi Sundowns (twice) and Ajax Cape Town failed.

Stars have competed at the highest level in South Africa for only five years, have won just one domestic trophy, have no stars, and counting their supporters would take minutes rather than hours.

Ahly celebrated their centenary last year, have won 12 African and 72 Egyptian titles, boast some of the best footballers in Africa, and claim a support base running into millions across North Africa and the Middle East.

Stars Argentine coach Miguel Gamondi insisted before the final round, first leg qualifier that his team would respect the household names of Ahly like midfielder Mohamed Aboutraika but not fear them, and so it proved.

Platinum took the initiative and created the few half chances of the first 45 minutes with Ahly content to soak up pressure in their first African outing of the year after receiving a bye and a walkover.

The best chance fell to unmarked Mmotong as the half drew to a close, but he failed to control an inviting cross from livewire Williams and ballooned the ball over the bar.

After a slow, cagey opening half, the pace quickened with Stars sensing they could not only match their illustrious opponents but better them in the fairytale fixture of the round.

Mmotong struck when Ahly failed to cut off a cross and the striker held off a defender to shoot low across Abdelhamid into the far corner of the net to the virtual disbelief of the few South African supporters.

A curling Aboutraika shot left goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands stranded only to rebound off the post as Ahly finally posed a threat going forward and Abdelhamid made a superb reflex save from 'Simba' Marumo at the other end.

Substitute Moteab, one of several Egypt stars from the 2008 African Nations Cup-winning team on display, levelled with a glancing header wide of Sandilands after a near-post cross from Angolan Felisberto 'Gilberto' Amaral.

As time ticked away and a draw appeared inevitable, diminutive former Inter Milan striker Marumo outjumped Ahly captain Shady Mohamed and the ball fell to Williams, who completed an outstanding individual performance with the winner.

The clubs clash again at the 80,000-seat Cairo Stadium over the weekend of May 9-11 with the aggregate winners qualifying for the lucrative group phase of the 3,5-million-dollar competition.

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