Ahly on verge of joining Esperance and Coton Sport in semis

Al-Ahly player Mohamed Aboutrika
Al-Ahly player Mohamed Aboutrika

Holders Al Ahly of Egypt are on the verge of joining Tunisian club Esperance and Cameroon's Coton Sport in this year's Caf African Champions League semi-finals following crucial group results at the weekend.

Ahly defeated arch rivals and neighbours Zamalek 4-2 to go top of Group A. Ahly need just one more point to make sure of their place in the last four.

Group B leaders Esperance beat Angola's Recreativo Libolo 3-2 to progress as group winners.

Coton Sport took second place, drawing 0-0 with Sewe San Pedro in Ivory Coast. They also go through.

The all-Egyptian fixture between Al Ahly and Zamalek was played in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna and was staged behind closed doors after Ahly fans fought each other there two weeks ago.

It was Zamalek who took the lead after just four minutes through Omar Gaber. Ahly then came back with an equaliser from Walid Soliman five minutes later. The defending champions added a second at the 15 minute mark thanks to a strike from Ahmed Abdul Zaher.

After the break, veteran Ahly striker Mohamed Aboutrika added a third for his team with Ahmed Fathy making it 4-1 after 71 minutes. Zamalek did get a second goal through Ahmed Hassan with eight minutes remaining but Ahly held on for the 4-2 victory.

Also in Group A, Congolese side AC Leopards revived their African Champions League hopes with a 1-0 victory over South Africa's Orlando Pirates. The winning goal came in the second half when Dimitri Bissiki fired past a stranded Senzo Meyiwa after 72 minutes. The Pirates goalkeeper was making his 100th appearance for the Buccaneers.

The win puts Leopards joint second with Pirates in Group A, three points behind Al Ahly. Zamalek are bottom, a further three points adrift.

Pirates host Ahly in their final group match on Sunday at the same time as Zamalek will play Leopards in El Gouna.

In Group B, Esperance - runners-up in this competition last year - had N'Djeng to thank for their crucial victory over Recreativo Libolo.

The player - back in Tunis after an unsuccessful spell at Swiss club Sion - put Esperance ahead within three minutes.

After the break, Libolo's Robin Gouveia scored twice - either side of a Oussama Darragi goal.

With the teams level at 2-2, N'Djeng hit the winner for Esperance ten minutes from time.

Cameroon outfit Coton Sport, are also through to the semifinals. They secured second place in the group with a 0-0 draw away to Sewe San Pedro in Ivory Coast. The result leaves them four points ahead of third placed Sewe in Group B.

The eight contenders are chasing a $1.5m first prize and a place in the 2013 Fifa Club World Cup, hosted by Morocco.

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