Opening up Saturday’s final in Casablanca tipped as a landslide pick to make even more AFC Champions League history, Egyptian side Al Ahly certainly didn’t disappoint thanks to a real second-half flurry.
While the Kaizer Chiefs might have managed to put in what was a largely rugged display in the opening 45 minutes, the dismissal of Happy Mashiane on the stroke of half-time for a studs-up challenge was really a turning point.
Heavily outplayed and struggling to lay much of a glove on the Red Devils throughout the second-half exchanges, Al Ahly eventually stormed their way to this year’s crown at an empty Mohamed V Stadium.
On a record-breaking night in Casablanca, we have taken a look at the major talking points.
Al Ahly – AFC Champions League legends
While Al Ahly might still find themselves playing catch up in the race to defend their domestic crown, the Egyptian giants once again made even more AFC Champions League history on Saturday night.
Managing to cement their spot in African folk law as they made the trip out to Casablanca, Nadi El Watanniyah put in what was yet another dominant display on foreign soil as they lifted their 10th African Champion League title.
Becoming the first team from across the continent to reach double digits, Al Ahly would have also known that their record-breaking victory at an empty Mohamed V Stadium saw them extend their lead over local rivals Zamalek.
Now winning double the number of Champions League titles than the next most successful club, Head Coach and South African native Pitso Mosimane was rightfully filled with praise for his side’s rampant display in Casablanca.
Lifting his third individual AFC Champions League title and breaking the hearts of his boyhood favourites in doing so, there is no doubt that Al Ahly underlined their spot as Africa’s number one side.
Sherif shines again
While Al Ahly might have opened Saturday’s final in Casablanca tipped as a landslide pick with many across the continent, the red-hot form of attacking talisman Mohamed Sherif was another major talking point.
Heavily linked over the past month with potential moves to both Galatasaray and French outfit Nice, the 25-year-old once again put in another eye-catching display as he opened the scoring at the Mohamed V Stadium almost 10 minutes after the restart.
Running the Kaizer Chiefs’ defence ragged from the opening whistle and once again spearheading The Reds’ record-breaking charge, Sherif is Al Ahly’s top scorer in the current season with 20 goals and four assists. Now recording nine strikes in his last eight matchups across all competitions, it is no surprise why the Egyptian star has been linked with a potential move to Europe this summer.
The Chiefs’ nightmare
While Al Ahly might steal most of the headlines from across Africa this weekend, the Kaizer Chiefs’ sluggish display in Casablanca will see them come under real scrutiny, despite many feeling that they were always in need of a minor miracle.
Somehow finding a way to sneak past Wydad Casablanca earlier in the month after being priced as a 14/1 underdog, Stuart Baxter’s side failed to keep up that momentum in what was their first-ever AFC Champions League final appearance.
Although the one-time England youth coach might have put a lot of Saturday’s defeat down to Happy Mashiane’s first-half red card, it was a night where the South African outfit failed to lay much of a glove on a high-flying Al Ahly.
Showing similar issues that saw them embark on a woeful six-week patch earlier in the year, Amakhosi eventually limped their way to the final whistle with just 30% possession and only a single shot on target.
Kaizer Chiefs: Akpeyi (5), Mphahlele (4), Mathoho (3.5), Cardoso (4), Frosler (4.5), Blom (4.5), Katsande (5), Mashiane (3), Parker (5), Ngcobo (4.5), Nurkovic (5.5)
Subs: Billiat (6.5), Akumu (5.5), Zulu (5), Kambole (N/A)
Al Ahly: El Shenawy (6.5), Tawfik (7.5), Banoun (5.5), Ashraf (6.5), Maaloul (7), Fathi (7.5), El Soulia (7.5), Kafsha (8), Sherif (8), Mohamed (7), El Shahat (7)
Subs: Dieng (6.5), Ibrahim (7), S. Mohsen (N/A), Ajayi (N/A), Kahraba (N/A)
Goals: Sherif 53, Kafsha 64′, El Soulia 74′
Yellow Cards: Kaizer Chiefs: Parker – Al Ahly: Ashraf, Mohamed, Banoun, Dieng
Red Cards: Mashiane
Referee: Pacifique Ndabihawenimana
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