Egypt ace Gamal sets up Wits winner in final

Egypt’s Al Ahly footballer Amr Gamal celebrates his goal against Cameroon’s Cotonsport during their African Champions League (CAF) group stage football match, at Borg el-Arab Stadium near Alexandria on July 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

Egypt World Cup star Amr Gamal created the last-minute Maliele Pule goal that gave Wits a 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic Saturday in the South African League Cup final.

A match of few scoring chances at Princess Magogo Stadium in Indian Ocean port city Durban seemed destined for extra time when Gamal received possession near the touchline.

His two step-overs created space to cross the ball and substitute Pule backheeled the ball low past Cameroonian goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb to win the final.

Gamal joined Wits in mid-year on a one-season loan from Cairo club Al Ahly, who have won a record 19 CAF titles, including the Champions League an unrivalled eight times.

He has retained his place in the national squad that will compete at the 2018 World Cup in Russia after a 28-year absence from the global football showcase.

The record seven-time African champions were placed with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay in Group A Friday and the top two finishers next June advance to the round of 16.

Gamal was not born when the ‘Pharaohs’ last played at the four-yearly tournament, drawing with the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland before losing narrowly to England in Italy.

It was a historic victory for Wits handler Gavin Hunt as he became the first South African coach to win the four major domestic prizes: the league, FA Cup, League Cup and Top 8 Cup.

“We were better in the first half and Celtic were on top after half-time and I sensed extra time or penalties would be needed to settle the decider.

“Goals have been scarce in South Africa lately and my feeling was that one would be enough and our substitutions were designed to give us more power up front.”

Serbia-born Celtic coach Veselin Jelusic said: “I am disappointed with the result, but not the commitment of my players. We did our best and had a couple of scoring chances.”

Wits struck both posts during a first-half attack and a Celtic header was pushed on to the crossbar in the second half.

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