MATCH CENTRE

SAT 01 JULY 2017, 15:00,

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Zanaco, Al Ahly play out stalemate in Lusaka

by Graeme Jackson

Sat July 01, 17:15

Zanaco and Al Ahly played out a goalless stalemate in their Group D CAF Champions League clash in Lusaka on Saturday afternoon.

The result at the National Heroes Stadium sees the Zambians remains top of the pool on 11 points, three clear of second-placed Al Ahly.

The other Group D match between Coton Sport and Wydad Casablanca on Saturday will determine whether Zanaco qualify for the quarterfinals with a game to spare.

Al Ahly started brightly and tested Zanaco’s goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata as early as the ninth minute with a low drive from Ahmed Bekhit, but the gloves-man was equal to the task.

In the 18th minute the Egyptian club nearly opened the scoring through striker Junior Ajayi, who put a deft lob over Nsabata but was unlucky to see the ball hit the post, while Abdallah Said was unable to capitalise on the rebound.

Ahly soon made a change in midfield as Walid Soliman replaced Bekhit, who must have picked up some kind of early injury which he was unable to run off.

The switch made no major difference to the flow of play, with the North Africans retaining their dominance of possession.

On 38 minutes Zanaco needed Nsabata to make another good save, keeping out a low effort at his near post by overlapping fullback Ahmed Fathi. It proved to be the last notable chance of a goalless first half.

The Zambian side was much improved after the break, with the likes of Felix Nyaende, Saith Sakala and Augustine Mulenga influential as they forced Al Ahly onto the back foot.

Yet the Red Devils created a great chance to break the deadlock on 67 minutes, as Ajayi sent Soliman through on goal, but the substitute saw his low shot well saved by the legs of Nsabata.

That proved to be the last and best attacking opening of the game, with the teams more or less happy to settle for a stalemate by the final whistle.

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