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The African Champions League 2001
Final 1st leg match report
Mamelodi Sundowns - Al Ahly

All groups, all matches:
African Champions League 2001
schedule + results
knock-out rounds
Group A
Group B
Semifinals + Final
Dec 8 1350 GMT  Mamelodi Sundowns  - Al Ahly 1:1 

Before: Al Ahly from Cairo Egypt are weakened by the abscence of injured ore suspended players and the early kick off time which is inconvenient for the visitors because of the Ramadan daylight fasting.
Both teams have not entirely been convincing but have slipped into the finals as group runners up through close semi final matches. Sundowns have contained their opponents quite successfully and allowed only few goals but have not scored many themselves. In fact their average per game is below one! Anyway they did show attacking potential in their semi final homegame and Al Ahly surely will play drawn back, trying to make it a low scoring game and possibly get a chance on counter attacks.

1st half: 
-Al Ahly begin less shy than expected attacking with four, five players against a crowded Sundowns defence. Sundowns try to cut midfield space right away to deprive the visitors of the ball and initiate quick attacks into the counter spaces that teams offer when in ball possession.
-both teams play their traditional outfit, Sundowns in Brazilian style, Al Ahly in red shirts, white shorts, red stockings.
-only one side of the stadium is filled with fans, the other three sides look embarassingly empty for the biggest African club game
-('17) after a balanced first quarter with no goal chances, Sundowns have the first huge opportunity: a through ball beats a fragmented defence line, #29 is through and beats the keeper by a low shot, but the ball bounces back from the goal post back into the field, passing by a second Sundowns player ready to score only by a meter
-('21) The Al Ahly keeper grabs a sharp distant shot
-('26) Sundowns: a great #20 solorun through midfield is crowned by a 20 meter low shot that touches the goal post and rushes into the net - 1:0 
-quite well executed running patterns by the 3 other strikers had helped o spread the holes in the defence for the scorer to cut into, the whole scene had been a fast attack against a quite exposed 4 men defenece
-the Egyptian strategy of not playing drawn back had effectively moved the action away from their own goal but also had set up the scenario for fast through attacks. Those were successful twice and resulted in two huge opportunities of which one has been converted
-('31)('32) Al Ahly come close to a first opportunity, a scene which is answered right away by a Sundowns half chance on another counter attack.
-('33) two big scenes for Al Ahly: first #6 breaks through but can't get off a shot, the situation is cleared by the keeper with his foot. Then a long range attempt is deflected by the keeper for a corner.
-('38) another chance for Al Ahly: after the South African keeper had not cleared a cross convincingly, he has to save a 16 meter shot which comes right on his body.
-('45) Al Ahly have pressured the hosts during most of the last 20 minutes and play through aagain after a fine combination - but a South African defender can put his leg in just before there is a real scoring opportunity.

halftime 1:0
A fine match, Al Ahly have convinced concerning their general concept while Sundowns have been impressive in the way they have exploited their talents: defending the zero in the back while becoming extremely dangerous on the few occasions offered.

2nd half: 
- ('53) a yellow card for Sundowns #29 in a match that appears to be very fair and fluent
-the second half up to here resembles the balanced picture of the first 25 minutes of the first half
-('59) cross from the left- an Egyptian attacker at the second goal post for once beats beats the defence and makes a header which leaves no chance to the keeper and goes into the corner of the goal in reverse direction of the cross 1:1
-('63) Al Ahly with another good looking attempt
-('64) on the other side another half chance on a quick counter attack, a low shot no problem for the keeper
-now Al Ahly seem to play more drawn back, satisfied with the away goal. Immediately the action is shifting into their half as tehy don't get far when in possession. In one against one the Al Ahly forwards seem well controlled by the Sundowns defenders
-('73)('74) Al Ahly are moving around the ball in their half and midfield while Sundowns seem not capable anymore to apply a threatening pressing. After about a minute or more a sudden dangerous through ball but it is intercepted by the keeper.
-a clear shift of confidence in favour of the Egyptians
-('77) on a another through ball a Sundwons defender can intervene in the last moment
-('80) Sundowns with a huge opportunity out of the blue thanks to individual potential: #28 fires from 25 meters, a shot that beats the Egyptian keeper clearly but bounces back from the goalpost
-now Sundowns pressure the Egyptian goal and look capable of creating chances even against a crowded defence- a picture that confirms the original tactics as right
-('85) a now rare dangerous Egyptian counter attack interrupts the Sundowns pressure
-('87) Al Ahly control the ball again and run down almost a minute without letting the opponents touch it only stooped by an injury time out
--('90+1) Al Ahly unconcentrated at a corner and a must score opportunity for Sundowns: a striker all alone 7 meters in front of the goal fires the ball across the bar
-('90+2) another uncobncetrated defending but Al Ahly are luck when a 20 meter attempt is blocked by a defenders leg and the loose ball does not fall in front of the feet of one of the luriing Sundowns strikers

final score 1:1
Al Ahlyt tactics, which had long been to move the action away from the own goal while taking the risk ogf offering spaces for fast attacks, eventually paid off in a 1:1 draw with a valuable away goal scored which leaves the Egyptians with a wider field of tactical options for the return match at Cairo. Which will hopefully see a more apprpriate background, namely a packed stadium.

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