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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Preview: Ahly eye repeat of 2012 CL final against Esperance in Rades

Following a disheartening 2-2 draw in Alexandria, Ahly will be looking for a win in Rades on Saturday

Omar Zaazou , Friday 22 Sep 2017
Ahly
Soccer Football - CAF Champions League - Quarter-final - Al Ahly SC vs Esperance Sportive de Tunis - Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt - September 16, 2017 Al Ahly SC's Ahmed Fathy in action with ES Tunis' Ferjani Sassi (Photo: Reuters)
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Ahly will be hoping for a repeat of the 2012 Champions League final which saw them win the title following a first-leg home draw against Esperance, when both sides meet once again in the same competition in Rades on Saturday.

Following a 2-2 first-leg draw at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium last week, the Cairo giants will be eyeing a victory in the Champions League last-eight return-leg against the Tunisians this time around.

Ahly will be hoping for a repeat of the 2012 final, where they prevailed 2-1 in the second leg away from home following a 1-1 first-leg draw in Alexandria.

Despite Esperance’s goal advantage going into the second leg, manager Faouzi Benzarti still acknowledged how important it is to deny the record African champions the opportunity to impose their game and ‘implement their own strategy’.

“It is important not to allow Ahly develop their game and implement their own strategy,” Benzarti said ahead of the game.

“We are looking forward to scoring goals. We always play every game looking for a win.”

Esperance and Tunisia star winger Fakhreddine Ben Youssef echoed his manager’s sentiments, asserting they will not be eyeing a draw against Ahly following the positive result they claimed in Alexandria.

“We will not be playing for a draw despite the positive result in the first leg,” Ben Youssef said.

“We will play our normal game, as we look to please all the fans who will be there cheering on us.”

Recognizing how important it is to fly to Tunisia with high morale, the Ahly board decided to allow the club’s ardent fans attend their last training session in Cairo before departing.

"The Ahly fans’ presence and support had a magical impact on the team. It raised much our self-confidence,” assistant manager Ahmed Ayoub said.

“The game is difficult but winning is not impossible. We need a fighting spirit throughout the whole 90 minutes.”

Ahly go into the game at full strength, with only key center-back Saad Samir doubtful for the game with a groin injury.

Should Samir be ruled out, the Ahly center-back duo are likely to feature Rami Rabia and Mohamed Naguib following the departure of Ahmed Hegazi to West Bromwich.

Esperance, meanwhile, will be missing regular keeper Moez Ben Cherifia to injury, a setback that Hossam El-Badry’s men will be keen to exploit.

 Eight-time African champions Ahly last won the last of their titles in 2013.   

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