TUNIS: Al Ahly of Egypt, club at the centre of the nation’s turbulence, will be contesting the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan next month.

They secured a record-extending seventh African Champions’ club crown after a 2-1 away win over holders Esperance of Tunisia. That added up to a 3-2 aggregate success.

El Sayed Hamdi set up the opening goal for Mohamed Nagui two minutes before halftime. Walid Soliman made it 2-0 just after the hour, challenging Esperance to score three times to hold on to their crown. They managed only a late consolation from Yannick Ndjeng in the 85th minute.

Al Ahli might have scored a third but veteran superstar Mohamed Aboutrika saw his 89th-minute penalty saved by keeper Ben Cherifa – who had given away the spotkick by tripping Dominique da Silva.

Thus Al Ahly ended their African season in triumph, in stark contrast to the tragedy last February when 74 people were killed in a riot after their Egyptian league defeat by Al Masry in Port Said.

That incident prompted the suspension of Egypt’s domestic league which has forced Al Ahly to achieve continental glory despite playing only 15 competitive games this year – all but one in the African Champions League – and friendlies. The only domestic exception was the Super Cup match in September.

Many of the club’s influential ‘Ultras’ fans, out of an estimated support base of 50m, did not want them to play again until justice had been achieved over the Port Said disaster.

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