Pyramids FC captain Abdallah el Said hopes to fulfill a 15-month dream this Sunday by leading his Egyptian club to victory over Moroccan host Renaissance Berkane in the final of the CAF Confederations Cup.
An African campaign dramatically lengthened by a coronavirus-induced suspension began in August last year when newcomers to mainland football knocked out Etoile from Congo Brazzaville.
Fifteen months later, Pyramids proved too strong for Horoya of Guinea in a one-match semi-final in Casablanca, winning the midweek fixture 2-0 thanks to goals from Ibrahim Hassan and El Said.
“I’m very happy with the result because we played a good game, especially in the second half,” said former Egypt international El Said.
“The final will be tough as we face a great team, but we will do our best to accomplish our mission and raise the trophy.
“My teammates and I dreamed of winning the Confederation Cup in the very first game against Etoile and the determination to succeed grew over time. ”
Hassan had an instant impact coming off the bench and scoring within 60 seconds to give the Cairo club the 74-minute advantage against Horoya.
El Said struck a minute later to seal the win and stage a second successive final between Egyptian and Moroccan clubs after Zamalek edged Berkane on penalties last season.
Alseny Camara had the ball in the net for Horoya with five minutes left, but a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) exam ruled the goal offside.
VAR also waived a penalty awarded to Pyramids for pushing Eric Traoré in the second half as the game went scoreless.
Horoya has fielded an exhausted squad due to the withdrawal of talismanic Burkinabe striker Aristide Bance, injuries and positive tests for Covid-19.
On Monday, Berkane beat Hassania Agadir 2-1 in an all-Moroccan semi-final thanks to two converted penalties from captain Mohamed Aziz in Rabat.
The closed-door final will be the first to be played in a single game after organizers knock out the two-set title-makers.
Berkane hopes to emulate FAR Rabat, FUS Rabat, Moghreb Fes and Raja Casablanca and become the fifth Moroccan club to win the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
Zamalek and Al Ahly were the previous Egyptian winners of a competition dominated by North African teams with 11 wins in 16 editions.
© 2020 AFP