CASABLANCA: Egyptian giants Al Ahly won the African Champions League after scoring a late equaliser to grab a 1-1 draw against Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the second leg of the final on Sunday that secured a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Defender Mohammed Abdelmoneim flicked on a corner from Ali Maaloul with 13 minutes remaining, with the ball looping over the home defence and into the corner of the net to hand the Cairo club a record-extending 11th title.
After losing 2-1 in the Egyptian capital in last Sunday’s first leg, Wydad had been on course to win on the away goals rule after fullback Yahya Attiat Allah scored a 27th-minute free kick to hand the home team the lead in front of an expectant 50,000-strong crowd at Casabalanca’s Mohammed V Stadium.
Wydad were looking to complete a dream season for Moroccan football, after the heroics of their national team in reaching the World Cup semifinal in December, but the Cairo club reaffirmed their status as Africa’s top side after losing to Wydad in last year’s final.
Al Ahly have now won more than double the number of titles in Africa’s top club competition than their nearest rivals. This was their fourth successive final and sixth in the last seven editions.
Abdelmoneim’s decisive goal came as time was running out and with Wydad looking firmly in control.
Wydad’s goal evaded the defence as Attiat Allah’s free kick was missed by both attackers and defenders in the penalty area before nestling in the back of the net.
Striker Mohammed Ounajem tried to claim a touch but after watching television replays, officials credited the goal to the fullback.
Sunday’s final proved a typically testy affair, full of gamesmanship, repeated bickering with the referee and some horrendous tackling as the cacophony of noise from the Wydad fans often reached eardrum piercing decibel levels and created an intimidating atmosphere.
The smoke from flares set off in the stands caused a temporary halt midway through the second half before the game resumed against a backdrop of a green haze.
This season marked a return to a two-legged final after the last three editions had been decided by a single match.
Wydad had beaten Al Ahly 2-0 in the decider in Casablanca last year.