Moroccan Achraf Bencharki returned to the Complexe Mohamed V in Casablanca to score the lone goal as Egyptian giants Zamalek beat recently crowned Botola Pro Champions Raja Club Athletic 1-0 in the first leg of the Total CAF Champions League semi-final on Sunday.
The former Wydad Club Athletic player headed home the single goal in the match to give the White Knights a slight advantage heading into next weekend’s return leg tie set for Cairo International Stadium next Saturday.
This was Zamalek’s second win over Raja in three CAF Club Competition matches.
For Raja, this was only their second defeat in 23 games at home in the Champions League. It was a complete opposite for Zamalek who came to the tie with a poor away record, having only won one in 13.
Zamalek’s win crowned a good outing for Egyptian clubs in Casablanca with Al Ahly having picked a 2-0 win over Wydad in the first semi-final earlier on Saturday.
Bencharki got Zamalek ahead with a header at the backpost in the 18th minute, rising above Abdellah Madkour to nod in from an Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Mostafa cross on the right.
The visitors had looked the hungrier of the two sides, though there were only a pair of scoring opportunities before the goal. Raja had the first knock on the door after nine minutes through a training ground routine freekick from the right.
Post match quotes
“I believe we deserved a draw at least. I thank my players because they gave their all despite the difficult situation we had. I cannot blame any player today and we were the better side all over the game. We still have a chance in the return leg in Cairo and I believe we are still capable of reaching the final”. said Jamal Sellami (Coach, Raja)
“My players played to my instructions and we achieved a good result away from home. We felt exhausted because we had many domestic games in a short time, but we were brave enough to have this game tonight. Nothing is won yet, we have to remain focused in the return leg and achieve our target by going through to the final”. said Jaime Pacheco (Coach, Zamalek)