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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 October 2005, 19:02 GMT
Unbeaten half-century for Ahly
By Piers Edwards

Ahly's Mohammed Shawky and Etoile's Emeka Opara
Ahly's Mohammed Shawky (in blue) denies Etoile on Saturday

Ahly's goalless draw at Tunisia's Etoile Sahel on Saturday did more than make the Egyptian club favourites to lift the Champions League trophy next month.

The result also marked a milestone for the Cairo side, who have now notched up an unbeaten run which stretches back 50 games.

Ahly's last defeat came in June 2004 when Arab Contractors triumphed over their illustrious opponents in a domestic cup tie.

That loss must now seem a very long time ago, and Saturday's Champions League result means Ahly have gone one better than English side Arsenal.

The Londoners stumbled at the final hurdle last year when on the verge of reaching an unbeaten half-century.

Arsenal's run got no further than 49 matches as fierce rivals Manchester United beat them 2-0 in a bitterly-contested match in October 2004.

Yet there is one major similarity between the runs put together by both Arsenal and Ahly.

During their invincible spell, Arsenal spent the entire 2003-2004 season without losing a league match, the first English team to achieve the feat since Preston North End in 1888/89.

Longest unbeaten runs
108 - Asec Abidjan (Ivory Coast)
104 - Steaua Bucharest (Romania)
85 - Esperance (Tunisia)
62 - Celtic (Scotland)

Ahly have also recorded a season without a league loss during the course of this fine run.

The Red Devils won 24 of their 26 leagues matches in 2004/05, with only Masry and ENPPI managing to avoid defeat against the champions.

Now that Ahly, who have won all six of their league games this season, have hit the 50 mark, they can set their sights on some of football's longer unbeaten records.

The most immediate is the 52-match unbeaten run achieved by bitter city rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian league between late 2002 and November 2004.

That target is now in sight and only two other African teams have gone more matches without defeat than Zamalek.

Tunisia's 19-time champions Esperance played 85 games without losing in their local league between 1997 and 2001, a spell which included two unbeaten seasons.

Asec Abidjan are the other side and both the Ivorians, and Romania's Steaua Bucharest, are the only two teams in the world to have gone more than 100 matches without a loss.

Former European champions Steaua spent three years and 104 games without defeat in the late 1980s but this world record was soon beaten by the staggering run put together by Asec.

Under three different coaches - Philippe Troussier, Eustache Mangle and Charles Roessli - the Mimosas racked up 108 games unbeaten between 1989 and 1994.

Should Ahly manage to beat that achievement, it's highly likely they will not only emerge African champions next month but also win Fifa's Club World Championship in December in Japan as well!


SEE ALSO
Etoile and Ahly end in stalemate
29 Oct 05 |  African
Champions League final for Ahly
16 Oct 05 |  African


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