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African Champions League: Zamalek Snare First-Leg Advantage Over Raja

Zamalek are on course for an African Champions League final berth following their 1-0 win in their first leg of their semi-final clash.

Zamalek are on course for an African Champions League final berth following their 1-0 win in their first leg of their semi-final clash.

Moroccan striker Achraf Bencharki poked home the only goal in the 18th minute to give the Egyptian side a slender advantage ahead of Saturday’s return match.

Raja Casablanca were presented with the first chance of the game in the 5th minute but Soufiane Rahimi’s close-range volley was brilliantly saved by Mohamed Abou-Gabal.

The Green Eagles squandered a big chance two minutes later when Ben Malango floated a ball into the box for Abdelilah Hafidi, who headed wide from six-yards out.

Raja’s Ilias Haddad was called upon in the 10th minute, as the Moroccan international produced a fine reaction save to deny Tarek Hamed from six-yards out.

Zamalek eventually broke the deadlock in the 18th, when winger Ahmed Sayed Zizo skipped past his challenger on the right to send a cross that eluded Anas Zniti and found Bencharki to head into an empty net.

Raja nearly levelled matters in the 38th minute when Omar Arjoune was played through on goal, however, his low strike was deflected onto the upright by Abou-Gabal.

Both sides continued to display their attacking intent after the halftime break, although they both struggled with decision-making in the final third.

Raja went close to grabbing an equalizer in the 62nd minute when Fabrice Ngah’s curling free-kick forced Abou-Gabal into a fine save at the near post.

Malango nearly levelled matters for the hosts in the 67th minute when he showed some great footwork to beat his marker, before forcing Abou-Gabal into another good stop.

Jaime Pacheco’s charges looked to grab a second goal in the latter stages of the half with Abdallah Gomaa firing just over the crossbar in the 75th minute.

The Green Eagles squandered a golden chance in the 85th minute when Anas Jabroun failed to hit the target at the back post with the goal at his mercy.

Despite a late surge from the Moroccan side, Zamalek held for the win ahead of the second leg match will be played at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria next Saturday, 24 October.

How they lined-up: 

Raja: Anas Zniti, Badr Benoun, Ilias Haddad, Abdelilah Madkour, Fabrice Ngah, Omar Arjoune (Zakaria El-Wardi 71’), Luamba Ngoma (Mohamed Al Makaazi 46’), Abdelilah Hafidi, Mohsine Moutaouali (Mahmoud Benhalib 62’), Soufiane Rahimi, Ben Malango (Anas Jabroun 80’)

Zamalek: Mohamed Abou-Gabal, Ahmed Eid, Mohamed Abdel-Ghani, Mahmoud Hamdi, Abdallah Gomaa, Tarek Hamed, Eslam Gaber, Ahmed Zizo, Youssef Ibrahim (Mohamed Ounajem 85’), Achraf Bencharki, Mostafa Mohamed

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