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Mosimane hopes for Ahly’s third Champions League title

Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane

Ahly third Champions League title

Al Ahly will look to become the first team in the CAF Champions League history to win the title three times in a row as they plan for the start of the 2021-22 group phase in February.

As fate would have it, the Egyptian giants under the tutelage of South African tactician Pitso Mosimane have been drawn against the coach’s former team, Mamelodi Sundowns. Also drawn in Group A are the Sudanese duo of Al-Hilal and El Mereikh.

However, the biggest clash, arguably, off this group is the meet up between Sundowns and Ahly, with the Mosimane factor at play.

Mosimane was Sundowns’ coach when they beat Ahly 5-1 on aggregate in the 2019 season. He was also at the helm the following season when Ahly was revenged with a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Ahly third Champions League title

Al Ahly celebrate after winning last season’s Champions League trophy

Ahly and Sundowns met for a third consecutive time in the 2020-21 season in the last eight, this time Mosimane being on the opposite end coaching Ahly. He led them to a 3-1 victory on aggregate.

Overall, Ahly and Sundowns have met 10 times in the elite African club competition with Ahly winning all five matches in Egypt, drawing four and losing one in South Africa.

This season, Mosimane is looking to just not only beat his former employers but also make history with the Red Devils who are seeking a record extending 11th African title.

“When you are a coach for a team like Al Ahly you are under pressure all the time. We won it twice, so why not a third successive time? It won’t be easy, but I have the team for that,” the coach said.

He added; “Our group is a tough one, but so are all the groups. This is a tournament where you can expect anything. There are many big teams, and they are all favorites. But our target is to win the Champions League for the 11th time.”

The other interesting fixture in this group will be the Omdurman derby with rivals Hilal and Merreikh drawn in the same group.

The two will be looking to upset favourites Sundowns and Ahly to sneak in to the quarters.

“The draw has placed us in a very difficult group. But playing in this top tournament we cannot choose our opponents and this therefore calls for very good preparations. Our focus will be the first match away to Al Ahly because they are the champions. But we must believe in our abilities to perform well,” said Mereikh coach Leonardo Neva.

His opposite number Joao Mota of Al Hilal said: “I consider our group the strongest because we have the champions and our rivals El Mereikh. But we must have the ambition and a clear goal of reaching the next stage of the CAF Champions League.”


Zamalek SC players celebrate during a past match

Meanwhile, Ahly’s Egyptian rivals Zamalek who beat Kenyan champions Tusker FC 5-0 on aggregate to progress to the group stages are looking to vie for the title again, having reached the final in the 2019-20 season, losing to the Red Devils.

Coach Patrice Carteron says he is hopeful his side has what it takes to compete well this season and go for the crown.

They have been drawn into Group D and will face off with Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca and the Angolan duo of Petro Atletico and Sagrada Esperanca.

“It’s a tough group, but we will be ready. We are ready to face any opponent. We will do our best to win the group and go for the title itself. I know a lot about Moroccan and Angolan football, so we know our opponents well,” said the French tactician

Group B meanwhile pits CAF Confederation Cup defending champions Raja Club Athletic, Guinea’s Horoya, ES Setif of Algeria and South African debutants AmaZulu.

AmaZulu, coached by Benni McCarthy, winner of the UEFA Champions League with Porto in the 2003-04 season are confident they can upset the balances in this group.

“It’s a really tough group but I think our technical team will prepare us nicely and strong. We are playing against two teams from North Africa, it’s going to be a good experience for us. It’s going to be good for South African football and for the people of KwaZulu Natal, our supporters. It’s a difficult group but we are going there to compete and not add numbers,” said AmaZulu captain, Makhehleni Makhaula.

Group C meanwhile features Tunisian giants Esperance and rivals Etoile du Sahel, Algeria’s CR Belouizdad and Botswana debutants Jwaneng Galaxy.

Group Stage draw

Group A; Al Ahly (Egypt) – Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) – Al Hilal (Sudan) – Al Merriekh (Sudan)

Group B; Raja Club Athletic (Morcco) – Horoya (Guinea) – ES Setif (Algeria) – AmaZulu (South Africa)

Group C; Esperance (Tunisia) – Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) – CR Belouizdad (Algeria) – Jwaneng Galaxy (Botswana)

Group D; Wydad (Morocco) – Zamalek (Egypt) – Petro Atletico (Angola) – GD Sagrada Esperanca (Angola)

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