The plan came together - coach

04 November 2013 - 02:05
By MARK GLEESON in Cape Town

It all went perfectly to plan, said al-Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef after Saturday's 1-1 draw in the first leg of the African Champions League gave his side the advantage for Sunday's return in Cairo.

The rookie coach, on the brink of his first major title since taking over the hot seat in May, was full of post-match praise for his players after the Egyptians departed Orlando Stadium with a potentially vital away goal, brilliantly taken by veteran Mohamed Aboutrika.

"We knew how to deal with them, we played well. They pile on pressure up front but leave gaps at the back, which we tried to expose through counter-attacks," he said to Arabic channel Al-Jazeera.

"I want to salute my players for doing exactly what they were asked to do. Had we been calmer in the final third we would have doubled our score. But still, a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg is a good result.

"There are still 90 minutes left to play in Cairo. Things will be different there with our fans supporting us," Youssef added.

The coach has been championing for permission from hesitant Egyptian military authorities to allow the second leg to be played with al-Ahly's passionate support to back them, which has now been granted. There should be some 30 000 on hand for Sunday's return tie at Cairo's Air Defence Stadium.

Egyptian media yesterday were not happy about Walid Soliman's disallowed strike which, television replays showed, should have been allowed, as there was no off-side, as suggested by the linesman.

At the time, however, there were few protests from the al-Ahly players, either on the field or on the bench. However, much has been said of the officiating now that team management has watched replays from the game.

The club's Arabic language website was critical of the referee and linesmen, suggesting they were robbed of a victory.