Al-Ahly Frustrate Congolese Giants

May 5, 2024
May 11, 2024

Al-Ahly Frustrate Congolese Giants

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (April 20th 2024)

For the Master

Zambian great Rainford Kalaba, currently recovering from a car crash that nearly took his life last Saturday – it claimed the life of the driver, Charlene Mkandawire – spent 12 years (2011-2023) playing for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s most successful team, (Tout Puissant) TP Mazembe adding the CAF Champion’s League, CAF Confederation Cup, CAF Supercup (twice) to five Linafoot (DRC’s top League) titles during a hugely successful spell at the top club in Congolese football.

Kalaba established his reputation with Zesco United, winning the Zambian Cup in 2006 and the Zambian Super League in 2007. Zesco United also won the ZSL in 2008 but Kalaba transferred to Portuguese Primera Liga outfit Sporting Clube de Braga during the Zambian season. He also played a huge role in Zambia’s only success in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2012. Kalaba was the most successful Zambian import to Congolese football, although fellow AFCON winners Nathan Sinkala (2012-2020) and Stopilla Sunzu (2010-2014) also played for TP Mazembe.

Lubumbashi (formerly Élisabethville) and its great team rallied to the TP Mazembe legend, but despite the team’s show of support, the first leg of their semi-final – their best showing for years in Africa’s top club competition – proved a frustrating match.

Advantage Ahly?

After the tribute to the Master by TP Mazembe, Al-Ahly almost took an early lead, but the most successful side ever in the CAF Champion’s League’s Palestinian striker, Wissen Abu Ali failed to convert a chance he really should have taken. Nevertheless, the Congolese giants had several opportunities, but were thwarted by an impressive performance by Ahly’s goalkeeper Mostafa Shobeir, such as his excellent save to deny Malian striker Fily Traoré’s shot from outside the area.

Despite their pressure TP Mazembe could not find a way past Shobeir. The match ended scoreless. The second leg will take place in Cairo on Friday.

Meanwhile, four times African champions Espérance Sportive de Tunis beat the inaugural champions of the African Football League, Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 after Sundowns’ keeper Ronwen Williams thwarted the initial effort of Brasilian attacking midfielder, Yan Sasse, but could not prevent Sasse netting the rebound with less than five minutes of the first half remaining. Despite their best efforts, Sundowns could not equalise, meaning Espérance will take a slender lead to the Loftus Versfield Stadium next Friday.

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