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Preview: Egypt's Ahly eyeing place in Champions League final for first time in 4 years

Omar Zaazou , Saturday 21 Oct 2017
File Photo: Ahly's Moemen Zakareya and Etoile players fight for the ball during Group A meeting in a Confederation Cup match between Al-Ahly and Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia (Photo: Ahmed Hassan)
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Ahly will be looking to reach their first CAF Champions League final since last winning the title in 2013 when they host Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in the competition's semi-final return-leg at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Sunday.

Following a 2-1 first-leg defeat in Sousse early in October, Ahly will be seeking to overturn the deficit in front of 50,000 of their home fans expected to attend the game.

Manager Hossam El-Badry, however, will be forced to do without two of his team's pillars – with holding midfielder Hossam Ashour and veteran right-back Ahmed Fathi missing out due to different reasons.

Ashour, who missed the first-leg defeat due to a knee injury, picked up a groin problem this time during Ahly's 4-1 Egyptian league victory over Ragaa – leaving the pitch nearly midway through the first half.

Fathi, on the other side, serves automatic suspension after picking a second yellow card against Etoile in Sousse – with young right-back Mohamed Hani expected to deputize for him.

The absence of the duo leaves El-Badry with a huge problem in midfield, with the ever-reliable Fathi capable of operating in the middle of the park - having been used in the position in the first leg.

Then, El-Badry played with summer-signing Hesham Mohamed alongside Amr El-Sulaya, but the midfield pair looked incapable of coping with their opposite numbers.

As a result, Fathi was moved into midfield at the expense of Mohamed, who was substituted after a poor first-half performance where Ahly fell to a goal down.

It remains to be seen whether center-back Rami Rabia would fill in alongside El-Sulaya after being deployed in the position against Ragaa, or midfield Mohamed – renowned for his passing skills – would continue in the role.

Elsewhere, Ahly have no problems going forward, with Abdallah El-Said and Walid Soliman now available to play following respective injuries. 

Should Ahly overcome Etoile, they would meet Wydad Casablanca who beat USM Alger 3-1 on aggregate.

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