(SATSports) – Defending champions Al Ahly booked their place in the quarterfinals of this season’s CAF Champions League after securing a draw away to Al-Merreikh in Sudan on Saturday.
The Egyptians came from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw at the Al-Merreikh Stadium in Omdurman to secure their place with one game to spare.
Al Ahly found themselves 2-0 down after 36 minutes with the home side going ahead through Ramadan Agab and Saifeldin Bakhit. They could have been even further behind with the game probably out of reach had Agab converted a penalty in added time of the first half.
With their qualification hopes on an edge, Al Ahly was handed a lifeline through Bard Banoun who pulled a goal back when he scored a penalty with nine minutes of normal time to go.
Defender Yasser Ibrahim then scored a dramatic equalizer four minutes into added time to snatch a draw for the record nine-time champions.
The draw meant Al Ahly remained in second place in Group A on eight points four more than third placed AS Vita of DR Congo who lost 4-1 away to leaders Simba S.C. of Tanzania.
Cletus Chama scored a brace with Luis Miquissone and Larry Bwalya also getting on the score sheet to also confirm the Tanzanians’ place in the next round.
Last season’s runners-up Zamalek revived their slim hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinals after defeating MC Alger 2-0 in Algeria.
Youssef Ibrahim and Shikabala struck in the first half to hand the five-time winners their first win of the group stage and move to five points, three shy of their opponents in second place in Group D.
Group leaders Esperance threw away a one goal lead to suffer a 2-1 defeat to Senegal’s Teungueth and lose their unbeaten record.
Serigne Niang and Baye Diop scored in either half after Ben Romdhane had given the Tunisians the lead just before the half hour mark.
Zamalek will need to defeat Teungueth in their final group game and hope MC Alger loses to Esperance in order to have any hopes of advancing to the knockout stage.
In Group C, Kaizer Chiefs overcame the dismissal of two players to defeat Wydad Athletic Club 1-0 in Johannesburg and remain in the hunt for a place in the quarterfinals.
Bernard Parker’s goal three minutes into the second half settled the tie but the South Africans will be aggrieved by the loss of Daniel Akpeyi and Samir Nurkovic at the end of either half.
Victory means Chiefs remain in third place level on eight points with second placed Horoya AC who edged Petro Atletico 1-0 courtesy of Sekou Camara’s second-minute goal.
Chiefs and Horoya will face off in their final group game for the remaining spot to join Wydad in the next stage. A draw will see the Guineans through, as they boast a superior goal difference to Chiefs, who must win the match.
The final group games are scheduled to take place on April 9 and 10.