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Wydad, Ahly clash in first leg of Champions League duel

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Al Ahly celebrate the big win in a past match . PHOTO/Al Ahly
  • The two sides are facin off in a final for the third time
  • Wydad have won the previous two
  • The first leg will be played in Cairo

Wydad Athletic Club and Al Ahly are facing off in the first leg of the CAF Champions League in Cairo on Sunday night, with the Egyptian giants looking to wrestle back the title they lost to the Moroccans last season.

In a single-leg final Wydad clinched their third African title with a 2-0 over Ahly in Casablanca. This was the second time they were facing off in a final, having also clashed against each other in 2017 when Wydad won 2-1 on aggregate over two legs.

Ahly’s head coach Marcel Koller has warned that history will have nothing on them and they have prepared to make a positive step at home to win and set up a comfortable finish in Casablanca.

We are not affected by the past. We always look forward, and I am not one of the people who looks at the past. So much has changed over those two matches. This is a new meeting with new possibilities,” Koller noted.

His opposite number Sven Vandenbroeck however says the historic wins will give his side a psychological edge, but says they face a tough Ahly side which will give them a run for their money.

History can hurt 

“I understand that can hurt. It (the history) will play a small role but it will not change much. A final is always special. For us, winning and retaining the trophy is what is motivating,” Vandenbroeck said as he spoke before the match.

The Belgian tactician just recently joined the team and says winning the title will be a great honor for his side.

Ahly on their end are chasing a record extending 11th African Champions title, and Swiss coach Koller is keen to deliver this to them.

“I have watched many of their matches to study them and I know they are one of the strongest teams in the Continent. It will be a difficult match but we will strive with all our might to achieve victory in the first leg,” the tactician said.

He says he has belief in his team’s ability, pointing out they have proven themselves over the quarters and semi-finals and they are ready to put up another stellar performance to move closer to a historic 11th African crown.

Many doubted our ability 

“Many people doubted our ability during the group stages, but we were able to march on and work hard to be where we are today. We want to continue in this same form for the next two matches,” Koller opined.

Ahly will still be without first choice keeper Mohamed Elshenawy will be out due to injury. Although he has resumed full training with his teammates, the shot stopper is yet to get match fit and Koller says he will not take a risk to field him in the vital duel.

On Wydad’s end, they will miss the services of midfielder Abdullah Hamoud who underwent surgery for appendicitis. Despite Hamoud’s absence, the coach still believes he has a strong squad to challenge for a good result in Cairo.

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