Esperance, Al Ahly play to stalemate

Esperance, Al Ahly play to stalemate
Emam Ashour of Al Ahly challenged by Roger Ben Boris Aholou of Esperance Tunis during the CAF Champions League 2023/24 1st leg final match between Esperance Tunis and Al Ahly at Hammadi Agrebi Stadium in Rades, Tunisia on the 18 May 2024 ©BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday May 19, 2024. 12:20

Esperance de Tunis and Al Ahly played out a goalless draw in the first leg of the 2024 CAF Champions League final, played at the Hammadi Agrebi Olympic Stadium in Rades on Saturday night.

A tense and tight affair saw few chances at either end and left the tie very much on a knife edge. The Egyptian heavyweights will be relatively satisfied that the final has effectively been reduced to a one-off game on home soil, though only the Tunisian team can now benefit from the away goals rule.

Al Ahly endured a rocky opening to the match, with Esperance’s Rodrigo Rodrigues missing a glaring headed chance in the fifth minute, before Ali Maaloul succumbed to injury and had to be replaced by Karim Fouad.

The teams settled into a pattern of cancelling each other out through the remainder of the first half, with both resorting to long-range efforts.

Ahly’s Hussein El Shahat twice sent ambitious shots off target, while Esperance’s Houssem Yan Sasse whipped an effort direct from a free kick just wide of the mark in the closing stages of the first half.

And the second stanza followed a similar pattern, with neither side really prepared to commit numbers forward in attack and risk being hit on transition.

The Red Eagles struggled to get the likes of Percy Tau and Wessam Abou Ali into the game, while the Blood and Gold were unable to provide Rodrigues with the kind of opening he missed out on in the early stages.

Al Ahly ended the game as the stronger of the two teams, with substitute Reda Slim adding a new dimension to their attack after rising off the bench, but ultimately the match fizzled out to a stalemate.

The return game will be played at the Cairo International Stadium next Saturday, 25 May.

Esperance de Tunis 0

Al Ahly 0

Esperance: Memmiche, Ben Ali (Bouchniba 69’), Meriah, Tougai, Ben Hamida (Ogbelu 90+2’), Aholou, Chaaleli, Yan Sasse (Bouguerra 82’), Teka (El Ayeb 69’), Ghacha, Rodrigues (Ben Hammouda 90’)

Ahly: Oufa Shobeir, Hany, Rabia, Abdelmonem, Maaloul (Fouad 7’), Tawfik, Ashour (Afsha 81’), Ateya, Tau (Slim 81’), El Shahat, Abou Ali

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