DOWNTOWN AFRICA– Egyptian giants Al Ahly beat South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 in the African Champions League quarter-final first leg on Saturday as Wydad Casablanca beat Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel in Morocco by the same score.
Tunisian Ali Maaloul scored both of Ahly’s goals in Egypt and avenged the 5-1 aggregate drubbing Ahly suffered against Sundowns at the same stage last season.
The second leg of the quarter-finals will take place next weekend.
Defender Maaloul scored the first goals of Ahly’s Champions League campaign last August against South Sudanese side Atlabara.
But the 30-year-old did not manage to get on the score-sheet again in three other qualifiers and six group outings.
With 55 minutes gone, he played a one-two with Nigerian Junior Ajayi and then slammed a low shot across Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango into the far corner.
When Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana tripped Aliou Badji inside the box midway through the second half, Maaloul made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.
Ahly are seeking a record-extending ninth title after six barren campaigns since defeating Orlando Pirates of South Africa in the 2013 final.
They are coached by Rene Weiler, who hopes to become the first Swiss coach to win the elite Confederation of African Football club competition.
Later on Saturday, Wydad Casablanca left-back Mohamed Nahiri matched the feat of Maaloul by scoring both goals in a 2-0 home victory over Etoile du Sahel.
The Moroccan defender broke the deadlock against the Tunisian outfit after only 11 minutes and added a second goal nine minutes into the second half.
On Friday, Zamalek overcame defending champions Esperance of Tunisia 3-1 and Raja Casablanca triumphed 2-0 against TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The results also created the possibility of two Cairo versus Casablanca semi-finals with Ahly, Zamalek, Raja and Wydad holding aggregate advantages.