Pitso Mosimane out to end Ahly’s two-decade winless streak on South African soil

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Reigning African champions Al Ahly are in town for their second leg Caf Champions League quarter-final tie against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

Going into the tie, Pitso Mosimane’s Ahly carry a 2-0 lead. But, how have they previously fared in South Africa?

The Red Devils have not won a tie on South African soil in almost two decades, dating back to their 1-1 draw with Sundowns on the 8th of December 2001.

Of course, Ahly, eventual winners that year, went on to smash the Tshwane giants 3-0 in their own backyard.

Four years later, they were back again, this time against Ajax Cape Town in the Mother City, for the group stage of the 2005 Caf Champions League on August 7, 2005. They were held to a goalless draw.

Two years later, Ahly threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Sundowns in the first-leg of the 2007 Caf Champions League second round.

In April 2008, Platinum Stars became the first local club to beat Ahly on home soil. They won the game 2-1. The Reds were 2-0 victors in Cairo.

On 2 April 2011, a Jabulani Maluleke well-struck free-kick was what separated Ahly and hosts SuperSport United.

Once again, the ‘Team of the Century’ managed to use their experience to comeback in the reverse fixture at home.

In 2013, the Egyptians visited South Africa on two occasions. The first meeting against Orlando Pirates ended in a goalless draw.

A late goal from Bucs’ full back Thabo Matlaba, pictured above, then helped the home side seal a 1-1 draw with Al Ahly in the first leg of that year’s final. The Reds, however, lifted the trophy after winning 2-0 in Cairo.

It took the Buccaneers two years to avenge that final defeat, becoming the first South African club to knock Ahly out of an African competition after beating the Reds 5-3 on aggregate in the Caf Confederation Cup semi-finals.

A Thamsanqa Gabuza solitary strike handed the Soweto giants a 1-0 victory in Johannesburg, before they won 4-3 in Cairo to progress to the final, which they lost to Étoile du Sahel.

In 2017, the Cairo side clashed with Bidvest Wits in the Champions League first round and Gavin Hunt’s men held them to a goalless draw at the Bidvest Stadium.

But the most haunting memory for Ahly fans in South Africa came on 4 June, 2019 when the Reds suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat at the hands of Mosimane’s Sundowns. It was the nine-time African champions’ biggest ever defeat in the Caf competitions.

The goals came through Themba Zwane, pictured below, Wayne Arendse, Ricardo Nascimento, Gastón Sirino and Phakamani Mahlambi.

While the 2020 continental champions were held to a 1-1 draw in Pretoria, they got the better of Downs in Cairo when they beat them 2-0 in March last year.

In essence, Ahly have played six different teams in Mzansi in a total of 11 matches. They have lost four times while seven of those ended in draws.

Interestingly, Masandawana played the highest number of matches against Ahly on home soil [four] and the Brazilians won just once.

Mosimane, who led the Reds to the African title last October, will be hoping to end that two decade long winless streak when he guides his charges at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.

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By Mthokozisi Dube

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