Sfaxien's Wissem al-Abdi challenges Ahly's Emad Moteab
Tunisia's CS Sfaxien took a major step to a maiden Champions League title when drawing 1-1 with Egyptians Ahly on Sunday in the first leg of the final in the Cairo International Stadium.
Ahly, the defending champions, put the visitors under pressure early on and were rewarded for their endeavours when opening the scoring through Mohamed Aboutrika after 25 minutes.
But Sfaxien goalkeeper Ahmed Jaouachi kept his side in the game with a fine performance, and shortly after the break Ghanaian striker Joetex Frimpong scored a crucial away goal for the Tunisians.
The advantage is with CS Sfaxien who will host the second leg in Tunisia on Saturday 11 November.
Ahly started with their usual flurry of attacks and striker Emad Moteab was unlucky after eight minutes when his powerful header struck the post.
Sfaxien goalkeeper Ahmed Jaouachi had a nervy start, struggling in the air and he was lucky when Aboutrika's free-kick sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
The visitors first threatened after 20 minutes when veteran goalkeeper Essam al-Hadary had to move swiftly off his line to thwart Tarek Ziadi after a clever pass by Abdelkrim Nafti.
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Shortly after, a header from Angola's World Cup striker Flavio header brought out the best in Jaouachi as he acrobatically tipped the ball over.
At the other end, Mohamed Sedik blocked an attempt from Frimpong while Moteab managed to head timidly wide before the end of a lively first half.
Ahly seemed in command as the second half unfolded only to be caught cold by a classic Sfaxien counter-attack when Fateh Gabri teed up Frimpong for a soft equaliser after 53 minutes.
Shortly after, al-Hadary pushed away a Ziadi shot after another Sfaxien break down the left carved open the normally tight Ahly defence.
Ahly coach Manuel Jose threw on all his substitutions as he looked for a winner and the home side mistakenly thought they had earned a penalty when Wael Riad fell in the box moments after joining the action.
If Sfaxien win the title, it will set up the possibility of a Tunisian club double as compatriots Etoile du Sahel are to face title holders FAR Rabat of Morocco in next month's Confederation Cup final.