ORLANDO Pirates’ CAF Champions League campaign came to an honourable but disappointing end on Sunday night when they were beaten 2-0 by Al Ahly at the Arab Contractors Stadium in the second leg of the final.
Al Ahly won the two-legged tie 3-1 on aggregate to claim a record-extending eighth Champions League crown. Pirates were the clear underdogs heading into the match and were unable to overcome their illustrious opponents, though they will look back on missed chances and wonder what could have been.
Al Ahly enjoyed most of the possession in the first half, but their only real threat at goal arrived in the 22nd minute when Ahmed Abdel-Zaher let fly from long range and forced Senzo Meyiwa into a good save.
The two best chances of the first 45 went the way of Bucs. On 20 minutes Tlou Segolela cut inside from the right of the penalty area to be faced with only the goalkeeper to beat, but Sherif Ekramy made a brave block.
On 35 minutes a teasing cross from the right found Segolela arriving late at the back post, but he put his header wide of the target when he should have at least tested Ekramy again.
Just before halftime Al Ahly threatened to go through on goal with Abdallah Said, but Meyiwa came quickly off his line and the attacker was unable to get a shot away thanks to the ‘keeper’s pressure.
Nine minutes into the second half Al Ahly broke the deadlock. A low shot-cross from the right deflected off a Bucs defender and fell kindly for Mohamed Aboutrika, who stabbed home from close range to make it 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.
Just past the hour mark Pirates had a great chance to draw level. Lennox Bacela sprung the offside trap and rounded Ekramy, but he was unable to direct a shot on target from a tight angle as Ahly defenders sprinted back to protect the goal line.
Ahly made Pirates pay in the 79th minute when Ahmed Abdel-Zaher turned home a low cross from the right to make it 2-0 and kill off the South Africans. The Egyptians, however, did end the game with 10 men after the late dismissal for a second bookable offence of Sherif Abdel Fadil.
Al Ahly (0) 2 (Aboutrika 54’, Abdel-Zaher 79’)
Orlando Pirates 0
Al Ahly win 3-1 on aggregate.
Al Ahly: Ekramy, Abdel-Fadil, Gomaa, Nagieb, Moawad, Fathi, Ashour, Said, Soliman (Kenawi 73’), Aboutrika (Meteab 90+2’), Abdel-Zaher (Rabiea 85’)
Pirates: Meyiwa, Matlaba, Lekgwathi, Gcaba, Mahamutsa, Manyisa, Masalesa (Ntshumayelo 90+4’), Klate (Makola 86’), Segolela (Mbesuma 76’), Myeni, Bacela