CAIRO: Egypt’s Ahly failed to make use of their numerical advantage after being held to a 1-1 home draw by Algeria’s 10-man JS Kabylie, who qualified for the African Champions League semi final.
The Red Devils took the lead midway through the first half in front of a sell-out crowd at the 74,100-seat Cairo Stadium via a powerful header from Mohamed “Geddo” Nagi.
Kabylie midfielder Saad Tedjar leveled the score a few minutes later with a scorching shot.
The Algeria’s forward Sid Ali Yahia-Cherif was dismissed shortly before the break for simulation but Ahly could not break them down in the second half despite having an extra man on the pitch.
Emad Meteb, who is set to return to Ahly in January after opting not to honor his contract with Belgium’s Standard Liege, watched the game from the stands and probably wished to play to solve the team’s strike crisis.
His absence clearly affected the Cairo giants who struggled to threaten Kabylie.
Kabylie, who top Group B with 10 points from four games, ensured their progress to the semis.
Ahly lie second on five points, one ahead of Nigeria’s Heartland and two clear of bitter rivals and fellow Egyptian side Ismaili.
The six-time African champions will face Ismaili in Ismailia and Heartland in Cairo in their remaining two group-stage matches.
Roared on by the enthusiastic crowd, Ahly took control from the very beginning.
The visitors, who defeated Ahly 1-0 in Algeria two weeks ago, defended in numbers and tried to hit their opponents on the break.
They could have snatched a surprise lead when Yahia-Cherif ran onto a through pass and jinked into the area but failed to round advancing keeper Sherif Ekrami.
Ahly dominated possession but barely created clear-cut chances until they scored the opener on 22 minutes.
The lively Geddo was picked out unmarked by an Ahmed Fathi cross to head home at the near post and send the home fans into ecstasy.
Tedjar drew Kabylie level eight minutes later in a superb fashion. He had a free-kick blocked by the wall but his follow-up attempt saw him blast an unstoppable right-footed shot that left Ekrami with no chance.
Their celebrations were spoiled though when Yahia-Cherif picked up a second yellow card three minutes before the interval after diving to earn a penalty.
Ahly had the numerical advantage and laid siege to Kabylie’s area in the second half but struggled to trouble the keeper due to the absence of a reliable striker.
Mohamed Fadl was playing as a lone frontman but his presence was unfelt until he made way for Osama Hosni.
Hosni was also a peripheral figure as Kabylie defenders kept him and the likes of Geddo and Mohamed Abou-Treika at bay.
Ahly had a rare goal-scoring opportunity through Barakat, whose goal-bound shot was cleared by a defender after Kabylie keeper misjudged a cross.
Midfielder Shehab Ahmed tried his luck from a distance on several occasions but his inaccurate shots missed the target.
Substitute Ahmed Hassan was unlucky not to give Ahly a valuable victory in stoppage time when his close-range header was superbly tipped over by the keeper.
The disgruntled Ahly fans threw plastic bottles onto the pitch following the final whistle after their team was held to their fourth draw in all competitions this season.