7 March 2019

Africa: Shilongo, Ismaily's Biggest Consolation

The continental campaign of Egyptian side Ismaily this season has been one to forget after managing just a point at the group stage after four matches. Their chances making the group stage is up in flames.

However, Ismaily draw a positive note in the form of their new recruit Benson Shilongo.

Ismaily are back in the lucrative CAF Champions League group stage for the first time since 2009. And they came with high hopes that the "Daraweesh" (as they are fondly called by their die-hard fans) can go further in the competition they won exactly 50 years ago (thus 1969), to become the first Egyptian side ever to win a CAF title.

But their return has been one they never dreamt for. Ismaily lost to TP Mazembe of DR Congo 2-0 in Lubumbashi, before their home game against Tunisia's Club Africain ended abruptly. The sad incident led to their initial disqualification from the premier continental club championship; before being reinstated following an appeal, and declared losers of the match.

Upon their reinstatement, the first game against Algeria's CS Constantine saw them draw 1-1 at home before losing 3-2 in the reverse away.

Ismaily trail the group and qualification hopes extinguished. They will entertain TP Mazembe in Alexandria before visiting Club Africain in Tunis, and even maximum points from both games could not be enough to go through.

But their only consolation is in forward Benson Shilongo. The Namibian joined Ismaily from local side Smouha in January, and has proved to be their hitman ever since.

Having played for some domestic sides in Namibia, Shilongo joined Botswana's Gaborone United in 2016, before moving to South Africa's Platinum Stars a year later. In January 2018, he came to Egypt to join Al Assiouty Sports (now Pyramids), and six months later he moved to Smouha, before finding his feet in Ismaily's yellow shirt.

Shilongo has scored two goals and produced as many assists in the Egyptian Premier League. The 26-year old striker has scored three of Ismaily's four goals at the group stage.

Ismaily entertains five-time winners Mazembe at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Friday. Club Africain visits Constantine in a simultaneous kick-off.

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