Addis Ababa, EthiopiaÃ‚Â -Ã‚Â The five time championsÃ‚Â ZamalekÃ‚Â of Egypt reached the group phase of 2013Ã‚Â Orange CAF ChampionsÃ‚Â LeagueÃ‚Â after finishing level at 2-2 with hostÃ‚Â Ethiopian sideÃ‚Â St. GeorgeÃ‚Â inÃ‚Â the second round return match played at the Addis Ababa stadium on Sunday.
Though the aggregate result is 3-3, Zamalek progressed to the group phase with the away goal rule after the first leg had ended 1-1 in Cairo.
Zamalek strikerÃ‚Â Abdoulaye CisseÃ‚Â Ã‚Â sank St. George putting his side in a 1-0 lead just two minutes from the start with spectacular header. That early lead put St. George off their stride but it took St. George 12 minutes to regain parity whenÃ‚Â Shemeles BekeleÃ‚Â found the net after receiving a long pass fromÃ‚Â Yared Zinabu. At the 44thminute St. GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ‚Â Isaac IsindeÃ‚Â put his side in a 2-1 lead. The score remained 2-1 at the break.
With that lead St. GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hopes looked bright but the second half was by far and large dominated by the visiting side Zamalek. Knowing that the 2-1 result would put them out of the contest Zamalek put heavy pressure as the games drew to a close. Just 2 minutes from the final whistle once again Cisse found the net with a looping header form the close range to book his sideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã‚Â ticket into the group phase.
St. George Ã‚Â performed well Ã‚Â in the first half while the second half belonged to Zamalek.
The stunning CisseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s double ruined Saint GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hope of becoming the first Ethiopian club to reach the Champions League group stage. Amid victory joy and wild celebration on the pitch Cisse said that he is extremely happy that his side now got a place in the a group stage. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our plan was to qualify and we achieved that. This is a great moment for all of us,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
In a press conference the Brazilian Zamalek coachÃ‚Â Jorvan VieiraÃ‚Â who remained upbeat despite the first-leg setback in an empty Cairo stadium said that this a very precious win we and they had worked hard to get it. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Football has this kind of excitement and thrill. We did what we could,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
What the 49-year old Brazilian Zamalek assistant coachÃ‚Â Marco Avrelio Da CunhaÃ‚Â had said prior to the game was also proved right. St. GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s German coachÃ‚Â Michael KrugerÃ‚Â said that his side missed a great opportunity to reach the group stage. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had an advantage until the last 88 minute. But we wasted that. It is very disappointing,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. St. GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assistant coach Fasil Tekalign on his part said that lack of experience cost us this wonderful chance. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ZamalekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rich experience helped them progress to the group stage,Ã¢â‚¬Â he remarked.