JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A miserable weekend for African club football giants Al-Ahly of Egypt ended with a 1-0 Champions League loss at Algerian outfit JS Kabylie.
The driver lost control of the bus carrying the record six-time champions to a training session in eastern city Tizi-Ouzou during heavy rain and narrowly avoided skidding off the road.
And an eve-of-match attack on the same bus by unknown stone throwers shattered glass and defender Ahmed al-Sayed and striker Osama Hosny needed medical attention.
A Cairo attack on a bus carrying the Algeria World Cup team last November and clashes between rival supporters after a play-off in Sudan a week later soured relations between the North African countries.
Traditional poor travellers Ahly came to eastern Algeria hoping for at least a point only to give a sluggish performance and fall behind on 24 minutes when defender Mohamed Khoutir-Ziti punished a lapse.
Ahly improved in the closing stages as substitute and former Middlesbrough midfielder Mohamed Shawky made an impact but could not match their result of four years ago at the November 1 Stadium when they drew.
It was the third consecutive 1-0 victory for Kabylie, champions in 1981 and 1990, and they boast the only 100 percent record of the eight title challengers at the halway stage of the mini-league phase.
The biggest challenge for the Algerian 'Canaries' will come late August when they face Ahly again, this time at the intimidating 74,000-seat Cairo Stadium fortress of the 'Red Devils'.
But Kabylie are in the comfortable position of probably needing no more than three points from three Group B fixtures to seal a top-two finish and a semi-finals place.
After the return match against Ahly, they host 1969 champions Ismailia of Egypt before completing their schedule away to 2009 runners-up Heartland of Nigeria.
Ahly remain second with four points despite the defeat while Ismailia moved off the bottom by defeating Heartland 1-0 at home in a must-win clash for both strugglers.
Adding to Heartland pain was the fact that Nigerian striker Godwin Ezeh scored the crucial goal in northern city Ismailia 15 minutes into the first half.Defending champions TP Mazembe from Democratic Republic of Congo replaced Esperance of Tunisia as Group A leaders by coming from behind to win 2-1 in a top-of-the-table Lubumbashi
Entente Setif of Algeria suffered a huge blow when they fell 1-0 away to Dynamos of Zimbabwe -- a result set to benefit Mazembe and Esperance most as the chase for last-four slots hots up.
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