Ahly coach Martin Jol says that Tuesday's anticipated African Champions league match against Ivory Coast's ASEC Mimosas is a crucial one, insisting that that fans' presence will be a key factor for his team.
The Cairo giants are scheduled to host ASEC at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab stadium in the second match day of group stage. The Reds lost 3-2 to Zambia's ZESCO United in the first round on 18 June.
"After losing the opening game against ZESCO, the ASEC match is a crucial one for us," Jol said in a press conference on Monday.
"Despite losing their opening match, the Ivorian team won't be an easy opponent.
"We have to win all our coming home matches to ensure our place at the semi final," the former Tottenham and Ajax boss added.
Fifteen-thousand Ahly fans were exceptionally allowed to attend the match despite the country's ongoing crowd ban.
Egyptian fans have been barred from watching football matches from the stands since a series of security disasters left scores dead in recent years.
"The fans' presence will motivate our players to win. They played a crucial role when they attended our match against Tanzania's Young Africans in the tournament's round of 16," the 60-year-old coach explained.
Praise for El-Saied and Ghaly
Ahly, who are bidding for their ninth Champions League trophy, were recently boosted by their 38th league title after beating rivals Ismaily on Friday with two matches to spare.
On Tuesday, Ahly will be missing the services of striker Malick Evouna and midfielder Abdallah El-Saied due to different injuries. Rising star Ramadan Sobhi is also doubtful for the game after picking a muscular injury during Sunday's training session.
"El-Saied is an important player who helps a lot in linking the whole team. We will try to cover his absence through some technical movements between defence, midfield and frontline," said Jol.
"We have other good players in midfield like Hossam Ghaly, Hossam Ahour and Amr El-Sulaya.
"Ghaly is an irreplaceable player even if he isn't in top form. I hope Ramadan Sobhi will be available for the match," the veteran coach concluded.
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