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Ahly's coach hopes Esperance game 'will only be a football match'

Ahram Online , Thursday 8 Nov 2018
Soccer Football - CAF Champions League Quarter-Final - Al Ahly vs Horoya - Al-Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt - September 22, 2018 Al Ahly coach Patrice Carteron gestures during the match REUTERS
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Views: 2772

Ahly's manager Patrice Carteron said on Thursday that he hopes that his side's anticipated game against Esperance de Tunis in the second leg of the Champions League final on Friday will "only be a football game," stressing that his side is ready for the final despite the numerous absences.

Ahly took a first leg advantage after defeating Tunisian Giants Esperance 3-1 at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium in a game that saw many objections from the Tunisian side after Algerian referee Mehdi Abid awarded two controversial penalties for the hosts.

Tensions escalated after the game as Esperance asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to replay the game and to sanction Ahly's Moroccan striker Walid Azaro due to his "unsportsmanlike behaviour" during the game.

Videos went viral on social media showing the Moroccan striker tearing his shirt while the Algerian referee is reviewing Ahly's second penalty in the game.

The CAF disciplinary committee handed Azaro a two-match ban on Monday before describing Ahly's French coach as "complicit" in a statement issued on the CAF's official website on Thursday.

"In view of the latest incidents, violence in the stadium, the referee refusing to use the VAR, a player tearing his shirt in front of his complicit coach, the CAF president has reaffirmed his willingness to undertake various reforms," read the CAF statement.

"The game will be very tough against a good team which includes many excellent players," Carteron told the pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"We won the first leg in Alexandria and I know that Friday's clash will be very difficult but we are ready for all challenges."                                        

"I hope that it only be a football game,'' Carteron told the pre-match news conference on Thursday.

The Frenchman insisted that he has the solutions to compensate the absence of Azaro, who will miss the game due to his suspension.

Azaro is a key player in Ahly's frontline with six goals, which make him the team's top scorer in the African competition, one goal short of the competition's top scorer Anice Badri of Esperance, who netted seven goals so far.

"Azaro is a good player, but we are ready to play without him," Carteron added.

"I am fully confident in all my players, especially [Azaro's] replacements Marwan Mohsen and Salah Mohsen, who are international players."

Ahly will be looking for his ninth African title and the first since 2013, while Esperance eye their third Champions League title in the their history.

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