TUNIS — Al-Ahly’s poor away record continued, losing 0-1 to Ahly Benghazi of Libya on Friday in the first round first leg clash in Tunis.
Zimbabwe-import Edward Sadomba scored the only goal of the encounter on 67 minutes, capitalising on a blunder by Al-Ahly captain Wael Gomaa to give his side a first-leg cushioning.
It was the second successive loss for the eight-time winners, after suffering a similar fate against Tanzanian champions, Young Africans at the previous round in Dar es Salaam.
It was a well-deserved win for the Libyan side who gave their travelling fans a huge cause to cheer despite playing away from their favourite grounds in Benghazi. Burly forward Ahmed Zuway and Sadomba led raids into the Ahly half, but failed to land the breakthrough during a balanced first half.
On two occasions, Ahly goalie Sherif Ekramy was to his side’s rescue saving a Zuway goal-bound header on 23 minutes, before denying Sadomba seven minutes from halftime.
Ahli Benghazi appeared in control as captain Abderahmane Fetori, a member of the Libyan squad that won the Orange African Nations Championship title in South Africa last February, combined with Farag Mbarak, Solomon Jabason, Mosese Orkuma and Egyptian Ahmed Eid to dominate the midfield.
Five minutes into the second half, Mbarak was unlucky as his curling shot ricocheted off the post with Ekramy completely beaten to the relief of the defending champions.
Struggling in search of their feet, Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef brought on Mahmoud Hassan “Trezeguet” for Burkinabe Moussa Yedan on 66 minutes, to provide options.
Rather, it was the Libyans who scored a minute later. Against the run of play, a long ball found Zuway whose header was reached by Sadomba after Gomaa missed his clearance. The Zimbabwean fired past onrushing Ekramy for the only goal of the match.
The second leg will take place next weekend with the winner advancing to the mini-league stage.