CAPE TOWN – Kaizer Chiefs' fairytale CAF Champions League run came to an abrupt end on Saturday night when the crack Egyptian side Al Ahly ran out deserving 3-0 winners in the final at the Complexe Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.
The match may have been over as a contest at halftime after Champions League final debutants Chiefs were reduced to 10 men. Once Al Ahly scored the opener, Chiefs' hopes of mounting even token resistance disappeared into Casablanca's night air.
The outcome meant that Al Ahly, coached by South African Pitso Mosimane, have won 10 Champions League titles in 15 final appearances. Chiefs, Champions League greenhorns, had never before advance beyond the preliminary rounds in their 51-year history.
Straight from the opening centre, Chiefs produced a few sprightly moves down the right flank. Their early efforts earned them a second-minute corner.
It did not take Al Ahly long to impose themselves on the match, and 30 minutes later, they were enjoying a whopping 71% possession. However, they failed to draw a reward for this advantage.
Al Ahly channelled most of their attacking sorties down the right channels, where surprisingly Chiefs allowed them the space to manoeuvre. On several occasions, Al Ahly managed promising goalmouth crosses. However, Chiefs' central defence were equal to the task.
Chiefs' Nigerian keeper Daniel Akpeyi made a couple of solid saves and cleared a few threatening kicks into his goalmouth. Together with his supporting defence, the defensive lines were intact by the time the
90 + 2’| #CHIEFS 0 : 3 #AHLY— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) July 17, 2021
Full time score: Kaizer Chiefs 0 : 3 Al Ahly (Sherif 53’, Moursy 64’, El Soulia 74’)
Our 2021 CAF Champions League journey has ended! Thank you for your support! #Amakhosi4Life #KCAfrica4Life #TotalEnergiesCAFCL #KCGoingForGold pic.twitter.com/IYH73RuoLU
Burundi referee Pacifique Ndabihawenimana blew for halftime.
Despite a decided lack of possession, Chiefs staged a few counters, but their passing was worryingly wayward. Chiefs also seemed a little unimaginative going forward and never looked like threatening the opposition goals.
On the stroke of halftime, Chiefs suffered a massive setback when midfielder Happy Mashiane was red-carded. Initially, the ref reacted to Mashiane's clumsy tackle with a yellow card, but after reviewing the incident on VAR, Mashiane was shown red.
Chiefs captain Bernard Parker was given a first-half caution for a clumsy tackle. The other first-half yellow was for Al Ahly defender Ayman Ashraf who was booked for rough play.
Stuart Baxter, Chiefs' gaffer, started the second half with substitute striker Khama Billiat who replaced midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo.
Eight minutes into second-half play, the Al Ahly pressure finally took its toll when Mohamed Sherif scored after Chiefs' defence failed to cut off a dangerous through pass by defender Akram Tawfik (1-0).
There was more woe for Chiefs 11 minutes later when midfielder Magdi Kafsha scored with a curling strike that left Akpeyi high and dry between the sticks. Just before Kafsha pulled the trigger, Chiefs' rearguard were guilty of several instances of sloppy defence (2-0).
Al Ahly's 2-0 cushion became 3-0 in the 75th minute, and this time midfielder Amr El Soulia was the scorer after fine inter-play with Sherif.
The final ended in a personal triumph for coach Pitso Mosimane who bagged a third Champions League title after he first tasted success in 2016 while mentoring Mamelodi Sundowns.
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