Fresh from a third straight Egyptian Premier League triumph, Ahly are likely to seal smooth progress into the Champions League group stage on Saturday as they turn their attention to the coveted African competition.
The Red Devils wrapped up the league title with six matches to spare last Monday, fulfilling their target of settling the domestic contest “as soon as possible” so that they can focus on the lucrative Champions League.
They will be expected to stroll into the group phase when they meet Gabon’s C.F. Mounana in Libreville in the second leg of the Champions League round of 32 on Saturday.
Ahly enjoyed a comprehensive 4-0 victory in the first leg on 6 March, thanks to in part to a second-half brace from veteran playmaker Abdallah El-Said who will not be available in the second leg.
El-Said looked to have ended reports linking him with a shock move to cross-town rivals Zamalek when he extended his Ahly deal, which was due to expire at the end of the season, earlier this week.
However, in another surprising twist, the Red Devils put him up for sale as a disciplinary measure after hinting that he had already signed for Zamalek prior to penning the new Ahly contract.
Although Ahly are overwhelming favourites to brush aside Mounana, coach Hossam El-Badry warned against any complacency ahead of the game.
“The match is not as easy as many may think. Our opponents have nothing to lose after their first-leg defeat and they will be looking to make the most of home advantage to get a good result,” El-Badry was quoted as saying on Ahly’s official website.
“The first-leg result is deceiving; Mounana did not show their true face. They are stronger than that.
“We will also play in a difficult atmosphere because of the high temperatures and the humidity. But we are looking to reach the group stage and demonstrate to our challengers that we intend to win the trophy,” he added.
With central defender Saad Samir shaking off a minor complaint, Ahly will almost have a fully-fit squad against Mounana.
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