Before the final of the Caf Champions League final, Goal celebrates the biggest team in Africa ever … look away now, Kaizer Chiefs fans!
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Al-Ahly’s Golden Generation has achieved more in the continental arena than any other side in African football history, with a crop of players winning everything at club and international level. They stand unmatched at the pinnacle of African club performance.
In the summer of 2004, however, Al-Ahly had just completed a disastrous season.
A loss in the Egyptian Cup final against the Arab Contractors of the second division, which succumbed in the Egyptian Premier League under bitter enemy SC Zamalek, and most importantly, a pitiful elimination at home against Al Hilal in the Caf Champions League, the Red Devils with no choice but to strengthen their group.
Ahly splashed the money to sign some of the best stars of the Egyptian league.
They have joined an already talented group led by a promising striker named Mohamed Aboutrika, who joined the club the previous year.
Ahly’s aim to approach the Champions League next season was to lift the trophy. Manuel Jose’s men brushed past giants such as Raja Casablanca, Enyimba and bitter enemy Zamalek in the semifinals to reach the final.
Matches against Etoile du Sahel allowed the Red Devils to claim a third Champions League crown with academy product Osama Hosny and fresh signings Aboutrika and Mohamed Barakat.
The red machine was born.
Despite a fierce ride the following year, Ahly and their Galacticos reached the final again, where they met another Tunisian team – CS Sfaxien.
The Red Devils were forced into a painful 1-1 draw in Cairo in the first game, and the back of the wall for the return game in Rades.
In a terrific atmosphere, and in front of fans just waiting for the locals to be crowned, Ahly finally showed the gap between themselves and their opponents in class.
From a desperate long ball from Mohamed Shady, Emad Moteab’s deflection falls on Aboutrika’s trunk, and they play it properly past Ahmed Jawachi.
It was a goal that perfectly embodied Ahly’s strategy: connecting academics and experienced stars.
Out of nowhere, they won the trophy and silenced Rades in the coldest way possible.
This fourth title was surely their most dramatic, but also gave them a place in the revamped World Cup club.
The Red Devils, powered by the legendary Bermuda Triangle (Barakat, Aboutrika and Flavio), were in Japan to improve their disastrous 2005 exit.
Two of the fantastic attacks from Flavio and Aboutrika, which took place against the Auckland City champions in Oceania, saw them through the semi-finals. Ahly, who closed out the tournament against future champions Internacional, would bow down with honor after giving the South Americans an excellent fight.
Against Club America in third place, Aboutrika’s flamboyant performance was a historic bronze medal that until recently was the best result of an African team in the Club World Cup.
After Ahly won another Super Cup series a few weeks later and defeated Etoile du Sahel in the final, Ahly set out to do what no one else had done before: he won a giant Champions League triangle .
A typical Ahly campaign, full of experience and mastery of matches, led to the Red Devils qualifying for their third final in a row. Half the work was done; they now had to close again with Etoile horns.
Psychologically and tactically favored after drawing in Sousse, Manuel Jose’s men appeared in pole position to achieve what no one had done before.
Ahly was upset in front of their supporters and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak himself by an undefeated Etoile team and made a trophy look like they promised at death.
The Red Goliath was on their knees after missing the opportunity to write even more African football history with a colossal three-in-a-row.
2008 would be the year of redemption, as a group of many members of the Egyptian team that steamrolled the Ivory Coast and Cameroon in Ghana took part in the competition with one goal in mind: to take another continental crown.
An excellent campaign resulted in Ahly reaching a fourth final in four years – equal to the record set by Tout Puissant Mazembe from the 1960s – and they had a comfortable 2-0 victory at the International Stadium of Cairo scored.
In the return match in Garoua, Ahmed Hassan led Ahly, but goals from Lassina Abdoul Karim and Ousmailia Baba scored Coton within one goal of success.
In the 89th minute, however, the mercury Barakat deserved a penalty kick that was quietly converted by Shady to clinch the title.
With composure, experience and a divide of classes that sets them apart from the rest of their opponents, the Red Devils, led by Professor Manuel Jose, have won an impressive third Champions League in four years to beat their biggest rivals SC Zamalek in to catch up and become the club with the largest number of Champions League wins.
Ahly obviously entered their favorite tournament in 2009 as arch-favorites, but was stunned at home by one of the competition’s surprise packages: Kano Pillars.
The Red Devils, who were reduced to the Confederations Cup, were beaten by the inexperienced Angolan Santos after winning the first match 3-0 in Cairo.
It was finally the end of five years of almost undiluted dominance of an extraordinary generation that reached four Champions League finals, won three and was at the heart of Egypt’s best Afcon successes.
This Ahly generation is undoubtedly the largest crop of players that African club football has ever seen, given its impact on Caf competitions and the bubble cups of the African Cup of Nations – at a time when European stars were kings .
Never has a generation left an impression of dominance through their exhibits and trophies like these golden pool players.
Although the Port Said catastrophe was severely affected, the few survivors of this generation (Aboutrika, Barakat, Wael Gomaa), along with talents such as Abdallah El-Said and Walid Soliman, would return to their glory three years later after abandoning Esperance. .
Ahly would go on to clinch another Caf Super Cup, and would win their latest Champions League crown in 2013, with the surprise package Orlando Pirates in the final.
It turns out to be the swan song for Aboutrika, a true magic game maker.