KAMPALA. At the full-time whistle, Al Ahly’s record eight titles had somehow vanished within the ecstatic atmosphere after falling to KCCA at Namboole yesterday.
The hosts had defied odds to beat the Egyptian giants 2-0 for their first Caf Champions League Group stage win, also the first by a Ugandan club at this stage of the competition. Historic!
KCCA’s coach Mike Mutebi’s remarks summed it all. “We have beaten the biggest club in Africa. Not only beating but also, we played well,” he said. Since the start of 2017, KCCA has taken matters on the continent a little more seriously and the Ugandan club has now played 18 matches across the Caf Champions League and Confederations Cup.
Bar Mamelodi Sundowns, Mutebi’s brigade has won eight of nine home contests with Al Ahly becoming the fourth club from the Maghreb region to be floored on home soil. In Confederation Cup at Lugogo last year, KCCA left it late with a Derrick Nsibambi winner against Egypt’s Al Masry to become the first club to make competition’s group stages since inception in the ‘90s.
In the group, KCCA beat 13-time Tunisian champions Club Africain 2-1 as well as 2010 Confederation Cup winners FUS Rabat of Morocco 3-1 but it’s the goal conceded in the latter match which deterred progress. Yesterday, KCCA was even better against this North African opposition bar a jittery first-half. “We put up a very good tactical display,” Mutebi stated.
Mutebi made right changes, introducing Lawrence Bukenya in the middle for Jackson Nunda at half-time and the introduction of striker Derrick Nsibambi for defensive midfielder Isaac Kirabira with 20 minutes left duly delivered the result.
Sadam Juma’s well-struck 74th minute effort from 20 yards and captain Timothy Awany’s 89th minute penalty ensured the club has scored in every home encounter - now counting 14. More than half of the under 6,000 fans in Namboole yesterday may not have watched Al Ahly’s last visit here - a goalless draw with SC Villa back in Nakivubo on March 4, 2005.
Then, Al Ahly was more dominant on the continent as most of their players would go on win three straight Africa Cup of Nations titles with Egypt. Not taking anything away from Hossam El Badry’s side yesterday. But having won the Egyptian league for the record 40th time weeks back, the form has faded and injuries crept in.
Now with just a point from two Group matches, Badri’s job could be on the line if fans recent protests in Cairo are anything to go by.
They could have led by half-time but one man - goalkeeper Charles Lukwago - kept KCCA intact.
He saved Said Ebeid’s penalty in the 24th minute and that moment was sandwiched by two others where Lukwago was forced out of the area to stop Mohamed Hussein and later Phakamani Mahlambi.
Lukwago, who sat out the 1-0 away loss to Township Rollers in the Group Stage opener, has now conceded once just over 450 minutes in the competition this season.
Had Ebeid celebrated, the result would have been different but for now, KCCA believe making the lucrative quarters is possible even if there are still 360 minutes to play.