Egyptian giants Zamalek are on the way to a remarkable turn-around after their huge 4-0 win over Kenya’s Gor Mahia in Alexandria on Sunday took them top of Group D.
The White Knights were without a win after three matches including a shock 4-2 loss to Gor in Nairobi. They headed into the penultimate round of games bottom of the table, but had some hopes of moving top after Petro Atletico beat hitherto leaders Nasr Athletic Hussein Dey 2-0 in the other group match in Luanda.
Two first half goals notched by Mahmoud Alaa and Youssef Obama saw the White Knights take control of the tie with Ferjani Sassi and Omar Elsaid scoring two quickfire goals late in the second half to seal the victory.
Zamalek top the group on eight points, Petro second on seven same as third place Hussein Dey who however have an inferior goal difference. Gor moved bottom of the group with six points.
Heading into the final round of matches, Zamalek will progress to the quarters with just a draw away to Hussein Dey in Algiers. This result will be beneficial to Gor if they manage to beat Petro in Nairobi.
But the record Kenyan champions were a far cry of their best against Zamalek at the Borg El Arab Stadium. Within 25 minutes, they were 2-0 down.
Alaa broke the deadlock in the 12th minute with a header at the backpost off a Hamdi Nagguez freekick floated above the entire defense and keeper Peter Odhiambo.
Obama doubled Zamalek’s lead after 26 minutes with a superb volley set up by Elsaid after Gor had struggled to clear a freekick which was recycled into the box.
Odhiambo, stepping in for the injured Boniface Oluoch was turning out to be Gor’s most important player and he pulled off another brilliant save in the 37th minute to keep out Ahadad’s bouncing header.
At the start of the second half, Gor made changes bringing off Boniface Omondi for Dennis Oliech to spice up the attack. Just four minutes after coming on, Oliech showed signs of his impending danger, shielding the ball well off two markers but he sent his eventual shot well over the bar.
Zamalek were continually getting comfortable and Odhiambo made another good save in the 64th minute punching away Yousef Fayed’s shot for a corner.
The home side kept the surge and completed the work at home with two goals within two minutes late on.
Sassi made it 3-0 after 83 minutes, some brilliant footwork seeing him skip past keeper Odhiambo and defender Charles Momanyi off an Ibrahim Hassan pass. Another substitute, Mahmoud Hussein, set up the fourth just a minute later, his miscued shot being picked up by Elsaid inside the box before the attacker easily beat Odhiambo one on one.