Al Ahli success maintains Egypt domination

JOHANNESBURG - Egypt maintained its regional domination with another major trophy victory at the weekend, Al Ahli's success in the African Champions League ensuring the year ended as it had started.

A record-breaking sixth triumph in the continent's top club competition completes another formidable double for Egypt, whose national team were crowned African Nations Cup champions at the beginning of 2008.

Al Ahli, already hailed as Africa's club of the last century, drew 2-2 at Coton Sport of Cameroon in Garoua on Sunday to ensure a 4-2 aggregate triumph. It was their fourth Champions League title in the last eight years.

Egypt also achieved the double of the Nations Cup and Champions League in 2006, spawning a generation of players whose legacy is now one of unparalleled success.

On Sunday, Al Ahli used six players who were also in the Egypt squad that were triumphant in Ghana in February, with coach Manuel Jose saying their experience was vital in holding out against Coton Sport.

"Ahli's current generation have what it takes to fulfill the fans' aims and expectations," he told reporters after the second leg.

The country has won more Nations Cup titles and club competitions than any other in Africa but surprisingly only qualified twice for the World Cup, in 1934 and again for the tournament in Italy 18 years ago.

It is an anomaly Egypt hope to correct when they begin the final phase of African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals in March.

Egyptian footballers are also beginning to make their mark internationally.

Striker Amr Zaki, on loan at Wigan Athletic from Zamalek, has made a major impact in the English Premier League while Ahmed 'Mido' Hossam's talents have already seen him compete in the top flight in Belgium, England, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.