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Sub saves Ahly in first leg of African final

updated 5:38 PM EST, Sun November 4, 2012
The 2011-12 Egyptian revolution thrust an unlikely group of young people into the country's political conscience: organized groups of soccer fans called "ultras." The 2011-12 Egyptian revolution thrust an unlikely group of young people into the country's political conscience: organized groups of soccer fans called "ultras."
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Ultra culture
Round one
Red is the color
V for Vendetta
Year zero
Ring of steel
The tragedy of Port Said
Remembering the 74
Song for the dead
Road to Brazil?
Lockdown
Egypt United
The road to the final
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • First leg of African Champions League final ends in 1-1 draw in Egypt
  • Titleholders Esperance take the lead through defender Waleed Hichri
  • Substitute striker El-Sayed Hamdy equalizes late ahead of trip to Tunisia
  • Match was played in Alexandria not Ahly's Cairo ground due to ongoing security fears

(CNN) -- Egyptian soccer club Al Ahly snatched a late equalizer against Tunisia's titleholders Esperance on Sunday to leave the African Champions League final in the balance.

The Cairo club will travel to Tunis for the second leg on November 17 thankful for the 88th-minute leveler from substitute El-Sayed Hamdy, who canceled out a valuable away goal by Waleed Hichri.

The match was played at an army stadium near Alexandria due to the security problems faced since 74 fans died in February's Port Said tragedy during a match involving Al Ahly and Al Masry.

Some 20,000 spectators were allowed to attend -- only the second time since the deaths that a match in Egypt has not been played behind closed doors.

Al-Masry fans chase Al-Ahly players during riots that erupted after the football match. Al-Masry fans chase Al-Ahly players during riots that erupted after the football match.
Scores dead in Egypt soccer riot
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Inside Port Said stadium
After a 1-1 draw with Gabon in the first leg, Togo's fans were hopeful of reaching January's Africa Cup of Nations ahead of Sunday's second leg.
After a 1-1 draw with Gabon in the first leg, Togo's fans were hopeful of reaching January's Africa Cup of Nations ahead of Sunday's second leg.
Color of the CAN
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Africa Cup of Nations playoffs Africa Cup of Nations playoffs

Read more: Egyptian ultras seek justice for deaths

The Egyptian league has been suspended since February as the club's militant fans -- known as "ultras" -- have promised to disrupt matches in protest against the lack of action taken by the authorities. An inquiry into the Port Said deaths is ongoing.

A minute's silence in honor of the dead preceded a goalless first half on Sunday, but Esperance took the lead five minutes after the break when Tunisia international defender Hichri netted from Khalil Chamam's corner.

Al Ahly, in the final for the first time since 2008's record sixth title success, were denied by a superb point-blank save by goalkeeper Ben Chrifia until Ahmed Fathy set up striker Hamdy.

"I'm satisfied with that draw, the match was very difficult so it felt like a win for us today," Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry told reporters.

"The performance of Ahly players tonight was affected by the long football stoppage in Egypt. It was also difficult for us to arrange friendly games lately."

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