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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Preview: Ahly kick off CL campaign with stern Angolan test

The match will also mark new coach Martin Jol's African debut

Omar Zaazou , Friday 11 Mar 2016
Ahly's Moamen Zakaria (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Al Masry during their Egyptian Premier League soccer match at Borg El Arab "Army Stadium", west of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt, February 23, 2016 (Reuters)
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Ahly will be keen to get back to Africa's winning podium when they kick off their CAF Champions League campaign at Angolan champions Recreativo de Libolo in the round of 32 first leg on Saturday.

Having last won the title in 2013, record eight-champions Ahly will be setting their eyes on Africa's elite club competition this time around when they visit Recreativo at the 10,000-seater Patrice Lumumba Stadium.

The match will also mark new boss Martin Jol's African debut, after guiding the team to a comeback 2-1 league win over Maqassa in his first game at the Ahly helm earlier in the week. 

The Reds, however, are not expected to have a plain sailing in the competition's first round against a side boasting18 foreigners on board.

Four-time league champions Recreativo, who thrashed Equatorial Guinea's Racing de Micomeseng 9-1 on aggregate in the preliminaries, possess a quite fine attack, featuring Brazilian Luiz Phellype and French Mamadou Diawara.

Portuguese-born winger Fredy is also another Recreativo player to be reckoned with, having finished as the league's top-scorer last season with 10 goals.

Recreativo are also experiencing a recent revival of late, having claimed the last two domestic league editions, as it is the fifth time to take part in African competitions since winning the first of domestic title in 2011.   

"Recreativo are a strong side, and they are currently the best team in Angola," football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz told a radio station.

"The temperature and humidity are quite high – as we will be playing at 15:00 local time," he added.

On the other hand, Ahly do not enter the game particularly at full strength - with a host of injuries taking a toll on them of late.

Most notably, the absence of keeper Sherif Ekramy – who is nursing a hamstring tear picked up in a league game three weeks ago - leaves them with only two shot-stoppers in Ahmed Adel and Mosaad Awad.

Defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour also misses out due to another hamstring complaint, with Hossam Ghaly and Ahmed Hamdi the only two holding midfielders in the squad.

Amr El-Sulaya was not registered in the team's African roster, while the absence of striker Emad Meteb and defender Mohamed Naguib continues due to hamstring and back injuries respectively.

Another position were Ahly were left with limited options was the left-back, with only Sabri Rahil there to fill in the slot after Hussein El-Sayed was ruled out due military commitment.

The winner of the match between Ahly, who host Recreativo a week later, and the Angolans face either Tanzania's Young Africans or Rwanda's A.P.R who clash in another last-32 match.

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