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Nigeria's Kano Flush Out Al Ahly

Source: FIFA - newtimesonline.com

Title holders Al-Ahly from Egypt were shock final qualifying round casualties in the African Champions League this weekend.

The Cairo giants came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Kano Pillars from Nigeria in Cairo, but were eliminated from the competition on the away-goals rule after a 1-1 first leg stalemate.

The damage was done early in the second half at the Military Academy Stadium as newcomers Kano stunned the 'Red Devils' by taking a two-goal lead via Victor Namo and Rabiu Mohamed. Namo tapped the ball over the goalline after Palestine-born goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh parried a Hillary Chukwu shot into his path four minutes after half-time in the Egyptian capital.

Badly positioned, Saleh was beaten by a Mohamed lob midway through the second half and the glum appearance of Ahly coach Manuel Jose from Portugal said it all as the champions realised they were in serious trouble. Ahly reduced arrears on 75 minutes thanks to their Angolan stars with Flavio Amado scoring with a near-post header off a corner from Felisberto 'Gilberto' Amaral.

Amado set up the equaliser four minutes from full-time with a pass to Mohamed Barakat, who fired past goalkeeper Joel Theophilus from close range to set up a tense climax.

However, five minutes of stoppage time failed to deliver another Ahly goal and the club that contested the last four finals and won three was eliminated.

The 'Devils' were favoured not only to overcome a Kano team with no African pedigree or big-name players, but to go on and lift the trophy a record seventh time. Ahly have been struggling on the domestic front, dropping four points in their last two fixtures, and trail Ismailia by three points entering the closing rounds of a championship they have won for the last four seasons.

Heartland completed a wonderful weekend for Nigeria by dumping 2008 Champions League runners-up Cotonsport Garoua from Cameroon out of the premier African Football Confederation club championship.

The club from the eastern city of Owerri took a one-goal first leg lead to Cameroon, where they forced a 1-1 draw with Ike Thankgod putting the visitors ahead and Salif Keita levelling before half-time.

Former champions Etoile Sahel of Tunisia and Tout Puissant Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Al-Merreikh of Sudan and Zesco United of Zambia also reached the mini-league phase.

Etoile followed a goalless draw with Al-Ahly Tripoli in Libya by winning 2-0 in the Mediterranean resort of Sousse via first half goals from Ghanaian Sadat Boukari and Ammar Jemal.

Zesco also built on a goalless first leg as they came from behind to oust Djoliba from Mali 2-1 in Ndola where a Janvier Abouta goal was cancelled by Lottie Phiri and Enock Sakala headed the 76th-minute winner.  Mazembe forced a 0-0 draw at Al-Ittihad Khemisset of Morocco to squeeze through 1-0 on aggregate and big-spending Merreikh made it despite being held 1-1 by Kampala City Council from Uganda in steamy Omdurman.