Costly Hany penalty miss as African giants Ahly held

JOHANNESBURG: Mohamed Hany missed a penalty for Al-Ahly of Egypt as the record 10-time CAF Champions League winners drew 2-2 with Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa on Saturday, leaving their chances of reaching the quarterfinals in the balance.

Namibian Peter Shalulile put the visitors ahead on 34 minutes in a Group B thriller in Cairo, then Hany wasted a second-half chance to level when his weak kick was saved by Ronwen Williams.

Persistent second-half pressure by Ahly finally paid off with a headed equalizer from Mohamed Abdelmonem after 59 minutes when Sundowns were caught napping from a corner.

Hussein El Shahat punished hesitant defending to fire the hosts into the lead on 74 minutes with a shot that beat Williams at his near post.

But 2016 African champions Sundowns had the final say when substitute Thapelo Morena leveled 10 minutes from time.

Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa shows the yellow card to Ahly’s Egyptian defender Mohamed Hany during the CAF Champions League group B match between Egypt’s Al-Ahly and South Africa‚Äôs Mamelodi Sundowns at the al-Salam stadium in Cairo on Feb. 25, 2023. (AFP) 

Cassius Mailula fired against the post and Morena pounced on the rebound and showed composure before hammering the ball across goalkeeper Mohamed el Shenawy into the far corner.

A draw was a fair reflection of a match full of flowing, attacking play with both teams missing numerous chances and defenders exhibiting some superb tackling.

While Sundowns dropped their first points after wins over Al-Hilal of Sudan and Coton Sport of Cameroon, they top the table halfway through the six-round group phase with seven points.

Hilal have six points, Ahly one and Coton none in a section the Egyptian and South African outfits were expected to dominate and claim the two quarterfinals places up for grabs.

Ahly do have a game in hand due to Club World Cup commitments this month, at home to Coton next Saturday, but two of their other three fixtures are in South Africa and Cameroon.

The Cairo club have featured in five of the last six Champions League finals and it would be a stunning upset if they failed to progress.

With Sundowns drawing, only two former champions, Esperance of Tunisia and Raja Casablanca of Morocco, boast perfect group records.

Mohamed Ben Hammouda scored in the first half and Mohamed Ben Romdhane in added time to deliver Group D leaders Esperance a 2-0 win over bottom club Zamalek of Egypt in Rades.

Hamza Khabba maintained his goal-a-game record for Raja in Group C, with Naoufel Zerhouni also scoring in a 2-0 victory against second-placed Horoya of Guinea in Casablanca.