Egyptian heavyweights Al Ahly beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in Morocco on Saturday night to become the first side in history to be crowned African champions ten times.
In-form forward Mohamed Sherif scored one and made as Ahly, following a relatively even opening, took full advantage after Chiefs’ Happy Mashiane was dismissed shortly before the break.
The Cairo side swiftly profited in the second half, first through Mohamed Sherif with a fine chip, then Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy before Amr El Solia cracked home Sherif’s clever backheel.
Ahly’s tally of ten African crowns is now double that of their nearest challengers, with city rivals Zamalek and DR Congo’s TP Mazembe both tied on five apiece.
Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane moves on to an impressive three Champions League titles, with the Egyptians defending the trophy they won last year while his initial, and arguably greatest, triumph came with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.
One of his more unusual successes, since it came against the very team he supported as a boy, made him only the second Al Ahly coach to conquer Africa two years in a row, after Portugal’s Manuel Jose in 2005 and 2006.
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Fittingly given his recent fine form, it was Sherif who made the breakthrough in Casablanca’s Stade Mohamed VI to take his tally to nine in his last eight before the forward helped wrap up the win when teeing up fellow Egypt international El Solia.
The holders came into the game as overwhelming favourites, with their record 14th appearance in the final of African club football’s showpiece event coming against a side making their debut.
Playing with new coach Stuart Baxter taking official charge for the first time, Chiefs were in the tie until Mashiane saw red – so decisively tipping the final towards the most successful club in African history.
Prior to the game, Mosimane had hinted that cutting the supply line from the flanks and set-pieces might stymy Chiefs and so it proved as the South Africans failed to find a way past Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.
Ahly climb to 22 Africa titles while Chiefs still claim just the one, the now-defunct African Cup Winners’ Cup in 2001, but after finishing eighth in the league, some 31 points behind champions Sundowns, reaching the final was a success in itself.
Al Ahly, meanwhile, roll on and will hope to impress at the Club World Cup in a similar fashion to 2020 when they beat Palmeiras of Brazil and took the game to European champions Bayern Munich in an impressive semi-final defeat.
Prior to that, El Shenawy and five Ahly team-mates have more football to play as they head off to Tokyo ahead of Egypt’s Olympic participation later this month.