SFAX, Tunisia, July 16 (Reuters) - A first half header from CS Sfaxien defender Issam Merdassi ended a run of more than two years without defeat on African soil for defending champions Al Ahli of Egypt at the start of the group phase of the African Champions League on Saturday.
Tunisian international Merdassi headed home at the back post on the stroke of halftime to give the home side a shock 1-0 triumph in Group A in Sfax.
It was the first loss for Al Ahli in continental and domestic competition since July 2004. They were beaten twice at last December's World Club Championship in Tokyo.
Sfaxien's attacking approach stung their Egyptian opponents with Abdelkrim Nafti forcing an easy save from Al Ahli's veteran goalkeeper Essam Al Hadari.
The Tunisians were playing their first game under new coach Mrad Mahjoubi.
Al Ahli, who lost Angolan World Cup striker Flavio to a hamstring injury in the first half, had their first real chance of the game in the 67th minute when Egyptian international Emad Moteab shot wildly wide from close range.
Algeria's JS Kabylie host Asante Kotoko of Ghana in Algiers on Sunday in the second Group A match.
Two-times champions Enyimba of Nigeria play away against Hearts of Oak of Ghana in Obuasi on Sunday in the opening Group B match.