Monday, October 8, 2007

Al Ahly-Etoile in African Final


Congratulations to Al Ahly of Egypt and Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia, who both advanced to the African Champions League final this weekend.

Etoile were the first to advance on Saturday, 3-1 over Sudan's Al Hilal.

The Sudanese won the first leg in Omdurman 2-1, meaning Etoile needed only a 1-0 home victory on Saturday to go through, thanks to their away goal.

Amine Chermiti put the Tunisians on the road to the final with the first of two headers after 13 minutes.

And the score remained 1-0 throughout the rest of the first half.

Early in the second half, though, there was a flurry of goals.

Saber Ben Frej got the better of a goal mouth scramble to put Etoile 2-0 up on the night.

But three minutes later, Hilal's Nigerian striker Ndubuisi Ezei got one back for the visitors, to make it 2-1 in Sousse, and level at 3-all on aggregate.

It was his eighth goal of the Champions League campaign.

The prospect of extra time loomed.

Not for long though, as Chermiti struck his second of the night on 63 minutes to take Etoile 3-1 ahead on the night, up 4-3 on aggregate.

But Hilal only needed to level the match with a second away goal to go through, and as the clock ran down they pressed and pressed.

A sequence of free kicks from just outside the Etoile area peppered the home side's goal.

But the Tunisians held on and they go through to their fifth consecutive continental final, and their third Champions League final in four years.

Over to Al Ahly, who edged past Al Ittihad 1-0 in Cairo on Sunday to reach the final.

The Egyptian club will now be looking to win their third consecutive title after they qualified for the final 1-0 on aggregate, after the two sides drew 0-0 in Libya two weeks ago.

The only goal of the game came after 20 minutes when Hilal's Hesham Shaban headed into his own net as he tried to clear a cross from Angola's Gilberto.

The final is a repeat of 2005 final that Ahly eventually won 3-0 on aggregate.

The first leg of the final will be played in Sousse in Tunisia on the weekend of October 26-28 and the second leg two weeks later in Cairo.

Good luck to both squads!

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