JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – An Emad Meteb stoppage-time goal gave Egyptians Al Ahly a dramatic CAF Confederation Cup final triumph over Ivorians Sewe Sport in Cairo Saturday.
The veteran striker struck in the sixth minute of injury time to earn Ahly a fortunate 1-0 second-leg victory against opponents who wasted several great scoring chances.
Ahly, who lost the first leg 2-1 in Abidjan last weekend, won on away goals to lift the second-tier African club competition trophy for the first time.
Meteb, the lone link to the great Ahly teams of the previous decade, rose unchallenged to nod a Walid Soliman cross past goalkeeper Sylvain Ghobouo.
The final whistle sounded almost immediately and Juan Carlos Garrido darted on to the Cairo Stadium pitch to celebrate becoming the first Spanish coach to win a CAF title.
It was a record-extending 19th African title for Ahly, whose collection includes eight CAF Champions League titles, six CAF Super Cup triumphs and four African Cup Winners Cup titles.
But a young, lively Sewe side appearing in a first African final should have had the final wrapped up long before Meteb became the hero of Egypt.
Captain Souleymane Dembele struck the crossbar in the first half while Essis Aka and Roger Assale missed great second-half chances to grab a precious away goal.
Victory for the Cairo Red Devils lifted some of the gloom hanging over Egyptian football after the failure of the national team to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Ahly made four changes for the return match, one of them enforced with first-leg scorer Mahmoud Trezeguet Hassan suspended.
But it was Sewe who took the initiative as they sought to become the first Ivorian winners of a CAF club competition since Africa Sports lifted the Cup Winners Cup 15 years ago.
The club from San Pedro, a port city 350 kilometres west of commercial capital Abidjan, defended in depth and counter-attacked menacingly.
Sewe came closest to breaking the first-half deadlock on 38 minutes when an Assale cross fell loose to Dembele, whose thunderous drive rebounded off the bar with goalkeeper Ahmed Adel helpless.
It took uncreative, sluggish Ahly 50 minutes to seriously threaten Ghobouo with a close-range Moussa Yedan shot eluding the giant shot-stopper only to be cleared off the line.
Aka should have put the West Africans ahead soon after, but a lack of composure proved his undoing as he blazed an inviting cut-back over.
The Mauritian referee had to separate rival players just past the hour as tempers flared after Soliman appeared to stamp on Ghobouo.
With nine minutes left, Assale squandered another great chance, shooting wide after breaking through an Ahly defence troubled by the power and pace of Sewe.
Soliman was posing the main threat at the other end and the crowd gasped with frustration when he cut in and beat Ghobouo only to see his shot finish off target.
But with Garrido frantically urging his team forward, wasteful Sewe were punished by Meteb, who had posed little threat before his title-clinching goal.