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The African Champions League title flirts with Al-Ahly and Esperance



The African Champions League title flirts with Al-Ahly and Esperance

The Cairo International Stadium will be the center of the world’s attention tomorrow evening, Saturday, as it hosts the second leg of the African Champions League final between Egypt’s Al-Ahly and their guests, the Tunisian hope.

The first leg, which took place between the two teams at the Hamadi Al-Aqrabi Stadium in the Tunisian capital, ended in a goalless draw, so the decision to win the title was postponed to the second leg.

Both teams have booked their place at the Club World Cup in the United States in 2025, in the first edition of the new competition system, with 32 teams participating.

The winner of tomorrow’s match will also guarantee a place in another tournament, the African Super Cup, where Egypt’s Zamalek awaits on the other side, having won the African Confederation Cup (African Confederation) title at the expense of the Moroccan RS Berkane in the final. of the continental competition last Sunday.

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Al-Ahly and Esperance are also looking forward to participating in another competition, namely the first edition of the Intercontinental Cup organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), with the participation of champions from other continents, in addition The winner of the African Champions League title will receive a $4 million reward for winning the title.

Al-Ahly (the reigning champions) must win any result to decide the competition in their favor, while Esperance dreams of victory or a positive draw to reach the podium.

Egypt’s Al-Ahly holds the record for victories in the African Champions League with 11 titles, the last of which came in the last edition at the expense of Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, while Esperance have won the championship 4 times.

Al-Ahly qualified for this round after dominating the fourth group with 12 points in the group stage, then overcoming the obstacle of Simba of Tanzania and Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.

On the other hand, Espérance qualified for the final, after finishing second in the third group of the group stage with 11 points, then overcoming the obstacle of ASEC Abidjan of Ivory Coast and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the next two rounds.

Historically, the two teams have met twice in the CAF Champions League final. The first time was in 2012, where Al-Ahly won 3/2 on aggregate in the first leg. In 2018, Esperance managed to win the tournament after winning the second leg. 3-0, after losing the first leg 1/3.

The two teams have officially faced each other in continental competitions 24 times before, with Al-Ahly winning 12 matches, Esperance only four times, while they were tied 8 times.

Swiss coach Marcel Kohler, the coach of Al-Ahly, gave his players passive rest for two days after returning to Cairo from Tunisia. He returned with closed training for two days at his home stadium (Mokhtar Al-Touch), then transferred his training yesterday. , Thursday, and today Friday, at the Cairo stadium, which is hosting the match.

In tomorrow’s match, the team will lose the efforts of veterans Amr El-Soulia and Tunisian Ali Maaloul to injury, the latter having recently undergone surgery due to a torn Achilles tendon that he suffered at the start of the first leg against Bab. Souika.

Al-Ahly will also miss Khaled Abdel Fattah, Hamza Alaa and Karim Nedved due to technical reasons, as well as Omar Kamal Abdel Wahed and Mahmoud El Zanfali due to African registration.

Al-Ahly will hope to retain their title and win their 12th title in their history in the competition, the second for Kohler, especially in light of the great support expected from their fans, who are expected to fill the Cairo stadium.

As for Esperance, they believe that the result of a goalless draw in the first leg is not bad, since they have two chances of a positive draw or a victory.

Portuguese coach Miguel Cardoso, coach of Esperance, excluded his player Osama Al-Suhili, who plays at left-back, while the list arriving in Cairo included the presence of 23 players, namely Aman Allah Mamish , Moez Ben Sherifia, and Sedqi Al-Dabshi, goalkeeper.

The list also included Mohamed Ben Ali, Raed Bouchniba, Mohamed Amin Ben Hamida, Yassine Meriah, Hani Amamou, Amin Togay, Roger Aholu, Ogbelo, Ghilan Chaalali, Hossam Taqa, Zakaria Al-Ayeb, Ghaith Al-Wahabi, Wael Al-Derbali . , Yann Sassi, Houssem Ghesha, Oussama Bougherra, Ondre Bockia, Rodriguez, Mohamed Amin Ben Hamouda and Kiba Soui.

The Esperance coach relies on his players’ experience in the face of public pressure, especially after the confidence gained by the team’s stars after beating Sun Downs in their stronghold in the second leg of the semi-final.

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