Saleh Gamal goal hands Ahly the advantage


An away goal from Saleh Gamal could prove decisive as Al Ahly lost 2-1 in Tunisia against Etoile Sahel in the first leg of their CAF Champions League semifinal, but are well placed to bounce back in the return later this month and continue their record-breaking feats in the competition.

Having eliminated Esperance in the quarterfinals by winning away, the Egyptians -- who have won a record number of titles -- were allowed to stay in Tunisia for the week to prepare for the opening leg against Etoile, a side they have previously dominated in the continent's leading club competition.

But they found themselves a goal down after just 16 minutes at the Stade Olympique in Sousse as midfielder Alaya Brigui powered home a strike that left Sherif Ekramy with little chance after Ahly could not deal with Hamdi Nagguez's corner.

Ahly, however, showed enough in attack in the first half to suggest they could force their way back, with Nigerian import Junior Ajayi and Walid Azaro both having chances before Walid Soliman blasted narrowly wide from distance. Brigui might have made it 2-0 as Ekramy failed to hold onto his shot just past the hour-mark.

Ahly coach Hossam Al Badary then brought on Gamal for Azaro in the 66th minute and 120 seconds later he had netted the equaliser, dispossessing Zied Boughattas as the defender slipped, on his way to scoring.

The lead lasted all of seven minutes before Mohamed Amine Ben Amor thrashed a low drive from outside the box into the net to put Etoile back ahead, to the loud relief of the home crowd.

Ahly, who had to leave Hossam Ashour out of the starting line-up because of injury, had a late chance to equalise as the ball bobbled around in the Etoile goalmouth before going agonisingly wide, but they will not be displeased wit the outcome.

The return leg is in Egypt on the weekend of October 20-22, with the Confederation of African Football still to determine the exact date, venue and kick-off time.