Ahly manager Hossam El-Badry is quoted on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) official website discussing the preparations for the group stage of the CAF Champions League that kicks off Sunday with Ahly playing DR Congo’s TP Mazembe.
“It's going to be a difficult game. Mazembe is a very tough team and have a good reputation on the continent. On the other hand, Ahly is still in the pre-season preparations phase and the players still have to gain their full physical and technical fitness. It's tricky to kick off the campaign with such a difficult game, especially that our players have been without local competitive football since the suspension of domestic football activities,” El-Badry told the CAF.
Domestic competitive football was suspended since the Port Said disaster on 1 February which left more than 70 football fans dead following a Masry-Ahly league game.
The Egyptian Champions just completed a training camp in Turkey in which they played three friendly games.
“Mazembe is a team known to everyone; they won the Champions League twice in a row and represented Africa in the Club World Cup. I watched tapes of their games against Sudan's Al-Merriekh in the previous round and I can say they are a very good team. We respect them a lot,” the 52-year-old manager added.
Along with Mazembe, the six-time title winners have been drawn up in Group B with archrivals Zamalek and Ghana’s Chelsea. They will play behind closed doors because of security concerns.
“I really wish that our supporters could attend the game, especially seeing that things are getting settled in Egypt with the election of the new president. I wish our fans could be there behind us in the coming important and decisive games because they motivate us well. I wish this turns out to be our last game behind closed doors,” El-Badry concluded.
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