Monday Jun 28, 2021. 09:00
Al Ahly manager Pitso Mosimane has admitted that a red card for Esperance de Tunis defender Ilyes Chetti was the key moment in their CAF Champions League semifinal, second-leg triumph this past Saturday.
With the match in Cairo locked at 0-0, a turning point arrived past the half-hour mark when Esperance’s Chetti pulled back Ahly attacker Taher Mohamed as he attempted to run onto a ball into the penalty area.
Though initially waved away by referee Sidi Alioum, the official took a second look thanks to VAR and changed his mind, awarding a spot kick to the Red Devils and giving Chetti his marching orders with a straight red card.
Ali Maaloul converted the penalty to put Ahly in total control, and the reigning African champions added further goals in the second half via Mohamed Sherif and Hussein El Shahat to complete a 3-0 (4-0 on aggregate) victory.
“We didn’t start the game very well. We were a little bit nervous and anxious. However, football is not about how you start, but it is about how to finish,” Mosimane told his club’s official website.
“We have to be honest, the red card helped us. It happened early, and it was well deserved.
“I told the players and told you on Friday that it will be an open game. However, we managed to have the upper hand in both games.
“Esperance is a big team and we respect them a lot, but after conceding the first goal, the game was further complicated on them.
“Al Ahly put on a strong performance tonight and we managed to reach the CAF Champions League final. Also, I am so glad that reached the final with Al Ahly for the second consecutive year.”
Mosimane added, “We feel good because we are in the final, but we have to be honest, we expected to be in the final.
“Not only because we are a big team, but because we played to reach the final. We scored three goals against Mamelodi Sundowns, four against Esperance, and five goals against Wydad last year. We are a big team.”
Ahly will face South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs in the final in Casablanca on July 17.