Ahly lead pack

CAIRO - Al-Ahly defeated Zamalek 2-0 in the biggest domestic derby in Africa and closed on another Egyptian league title on Sunday.

CAIRO - Al-Ahly defeated Zamalek 2-0 in the biggest domestic derby in Africa and closed on another Egyptian league title on Sunday.

Ahmed Fathi and Emad Moteab, members of the 2008 Egypt Africa Cup of Nations-winning squad, scored within seven minutes midway through the second half to keep Ahly 18 points ahead of second placed Petrojet.

Defender Fathi, who joined the Cairo "Red Devils" after a spell with English Championship outfit Sheffield United, latched on to a rebound and fired past goalkeeper Mohamed Monsef after 67 minutes at the 75 000-seat Cairo Stadium.

A weak headed back pass from Zamalek defender Bashir al-Tabei gifted the second goal to striker Moteab, who has been linked with several European clubs since Egypt won a record sixth African title in Ghana last month.

Ahly moved within sight of a fourth consecutive league title despite the absence of injured playmaker Mohamed Aboutraika, whose goal earned Egypt victory over Cameroon in the Nations Cup final.

"This team is not only about Aboutraika. We have 11 superstars and he is one of them," said Manuel Jose, the volatile Portuguese coach who steered Ahly to three of a record-equalling five African Champions League titles.

l Ahly received a walkover in the second round of the African Champions League when opponents Al-Tahrir of Eritrea withdrew from the competition on Sunday.

The clubs were scheduled to meet at the 75 000-seat Cairo Stadium on March 21 in the first leg of a tie five-time African champions Ahly were expected to win convincingly.

Eritrean National Football Association spokesman Tesfaye Gebreyesus said Tahrir, who received a first round walkover when rivals Tusker of Kenya were disqualified, pulled out because of unspecified "internal problem".

Ahly, who are chasing a record sixth Champions League title this year along with compatriots Zamalek, will play Platinum Stars of South Africa or Stade Tamponnaise of Reunion in the third round. - Sapa-AFP

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