By Victor Okoye
Record champions Al Ahly have qualified for their fourth consecutive CAF Champions League final.
They edged out Tunisia’s Esperance 1-0 in Cairo on Friday night, to qualify 4-0 on aggregate.
Hussein Elshahat scored the solitary goal for the Egyptian Red Devils in the first half to secure the home victory and progress to their sixth final in seven seasons.
After a conservative start, Ahly broke the deadlock after 21 minutes, and it was the South African wizard Percy Tao who was the chief orchestrator again.
After his brace in the first leg, Tau turned provider this time around, sending Elshahat through on goal with a brilliant defense splitting pass, the latter clipping the ball over the advancing keeper.
Esperance had a chance to respond three minutes on the turn, needing five goals now to turn the tide in their favour.
However, Mohamed Ali Ben Hamouda saw his effort on the half volley deflected for a corner.
In the second half, Ahly continued with their conservative approach, choosing to keep possession and frustrating Esperance who were in desperate need of a goal.
The Tunisians almost got the leveler in the 71st minute off a counter attack.
Ben Hamouda was away on his wheels on the right, capitalizing on the space left by right back Mohamed Hany who had been upfield in attack.
He sliced in a low cross into the area, but Moataz Zaddem blazed his effort over.
Ahly had some chances to bury off the game in the final minutes.
Substitute Ahmed Abdelkader came to the end of a beautiful passage of play by the hosts but couldn’t keep his final shot at goal low.
Mahmoud Kahraba also had a late chance, but his shot was well saved by the keeper.
The Red Devils will now await the winner between holders Wydad Athletic Club and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns who play on Saturday in Pretoria.
They faced Wydad last season, losing 2-0 to relinquish their title. (NAN)