In the inaugural African Football League (AFL) quarterfinals at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Egyptian and African champions Ahly faced off against Tanzania’s Simba, resulting in a captivating 2-2 draw in the first leg.
Ahead of halftime, Moroccan forward Reda Slim secured the lead for Ahly, but Simba came from behind in the second half with goals by Kibu Denis in the 53rd minute and Sadio Kanoute in the 60th minute.
Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ Abdel-Moneim, who had earlier missed chances, redeemed himself by netting the equalizer in the 63rd minute. This vital goal ensured a valuable away draw as they prepare for the return leg in Cairo next Tuesday.
Ahly initiated the match with a strong start, relentlessly pushing forward to secure an early goal. They created numerous scoring opportunities from both sides of the field. Within the first 20 minutes, the Red Devils had the chance to be 3-0 ahead, but Kahraba missed two clear-cut chances from close range, and South Africa’s Percy Tau sent the ball over the bar in a one-on-one situation.
In the first half, Kahraba displayed remarkable activity. His well-placed header was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper, and his penalty claim, following a challenge in the box, was denied.
In the final minute of stoppage time, he created a clear opportunity for Slim in the box, who slotted the ball into the net from close range.
The dynamics shifted in the second half as Simba orchestrated a comeback, scoring two quick goals. Denis, receiving an assist from Clatous Chama, headed home from point-blank range in the 53rd minute.
Just five minutes later, Kanoute eluded his marker and scored with a header from a corner kick, putting his team in the lead.
This marked the first instance this season where Ahly conceded two goals in a single game.
Nonetheless, the Red Devils quickly regained their momentum, and Kahraba equalized with a right-footed shot from close range in the 63rd minute.
Marcel Koller’s team had a chance to secure a victory, given their significant threat on the counter-attack, but both Kahraba and second-half substitute Salah Mohsen were unable to find the required precision in the final third.
The second leg between Ahly and Simba will take place at Cairo International Stadium on Tuesday. Should Ahly advance to the semifinals, they will face the winner between Mamelodi Sundowns and Petro Atletico.