Yanga, which had failed to beat any Egyptian side in their previous meetings over the last three or four decades, appeared to be on their way to ending that run, when Ugandan striker Hamisi Kiiza fired them ahead ten minutes before the interval with a well taken shot.
But, as the Jangwani Street side looked desperate and certain to end their jinx against Arab teams, substitute Amr Zaki’s 76th minute goal killed off any such hopes for Yanga.
Yanga attempted to take the game to their opponents in the first seven minutes but strikers Davies Mwape and Kenneth Asamoah lacked composure inside Zamalek box. The visitors opted a rather cautious approach, building their moves slowly whilst studying their opponents. Yanga missed a sitter in the 15th minute, when Asamoah poorly connected a well measured cross from left back Stephano Mwasika.
A goalmouth melee at Zamalek a minute later ended with Kiiza shooting to the side net. Then, the five times African Champions first good attempt came in the 19th minute, when a snap shot by Bennin striker Razak Omotoyossi outside Yanga penalty area was saved by keeper Shaaban Kado. Omotoyossi outpaced Yanga defender Nadir Haroub but he shot straight at keeper Kado. Yanga got the opener in the 35th minute through Kiiza, whose lob from almost 20 metres went through the top corner to send the team’s fans into wild cheers.
The goal gave Yanga much needed confidence and they could have added two more goals on the 38th and 39th minutes but Mwape disappointingly failed to connect home after he was set up inside Zamalek box. Asamoah became another culprit of misses, when he failed to finish off from inside the box two minutes before the breather, after he was released by Kiiza, only to see Yanga lead by the lone goal at half time.
Overall, Yanga had more chances than the visitors in the first half but lack of composure by the team’s strikers let the Jangwani street side down. The Mainland champions had chance to threaten their opponents on resumption, when a cross by Mwasika was turned by wind towards Zamalek goal but then flew inches over the top left corner. Zamalek though, were more determined, thereafter, as they attacked from either flanks and won two free kicks from almost 35metres but failed to exploit both chances. Pressure from the Egyptians paid off on the 76th minute, when they registered an equalizer through composed striker Amri Zaki, who easily slotted home past hapless Kado following a defensive mistake by Yanga.
Yanga could have regained the lead on the 80th minute but winger Shamte Ally, who had cut in from the right shot straight at Zamalek keeper Abd El Sayed. Yanga were in need of a resounding win over Zamalek so that they could put themselves in an advantageous position ahead of the return leg match that will be played in Cairo two weeks later. Yanga, moreover, were looking forward to ending the losing streak against Egyptian outfits in the premier continental club competition, a feat that practically looked much difficult to achieve based on the hugely contrasting level of performance and achievement between the Tanzanian outfit and Zamalek.
While Zamalek have so far been much successful in the African Champions League, despite their absence in the event in the past few years, Yanga have been struggling to stamp their influence in the tournament but in vain, with the team experiencing early exits in several attempts. Yanga’s only success in the African Champions League dates back to 1998, when they became the first Tanzanian side to qualify for the league stage of the event after knocking out Coffee of Ethiopia in the second round.
The Jangwani Street side had, until Saturday, yet to overcome any of the Egyptian teams it has met in CAF competitions, thus, a win over Zamalek was bound to be a record success. Yanga crashed at the hands of the other Egyptian giants, Al Ahly, in the 2009 African Champions League’s first round, in which the former lost 3-0 in the first leg match played in Cairo prior to conceding a 1-0 defeat in the return leg match played at the National Stadium to eventually see Al Ahly progress to the next round with a 4-0 aggregate victory.