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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Preview: Already qualified Ahly aim to win Champions League group

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul, Monday 27 Aug 2018
Ahly's Malian forward Salif Coulibaly (R) leaps to receive the ball during the CAF Champions League group A match between Tunisia's ES Tunis and Egypt's Al-Ahly SC at Rades Olympic Stadium in on August 17, 2018 (AFP)
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Egypt's Ahly is looking at ending the CAF Champions League group stage as Group A leaders when they face Uganda's Kampala City on Tuesday.

The Reds, who have already secured their place at the quarterfinals, will be hosting the Ugandan team in Cairo in the final round of the prestigious tournament's group stage.

The record eight-time Champions League winners Ahly, who missed out on a ninth triumph after losing to Morocco's Wydad in last year's final, are joint leaders with Esperance with 10 points, seven clear of Kampala City and Botswana's Township Rollers, who only have one match to play each.

Ahly only need a win in their last match at home against Kampala to advance as the group winners, given their superior head-to-head record over Esperance after they played out a 0-0 draw in Alexandria in their opening group-stage clash.

A victory on Tuesday would be a good compensation for Ahly, who seek revenge from the 2-0 away loss to Kampala in the fourth round of the Group A matches.

On the other side, the visitors Kampala will be eyeing a positive result in Cairo to say a perfect goodbye for the tournament after winning just twice and losing their other three reaming matches of the group stage.

On 18 June, Ahly ensured their place at the quarterfinals after beating Tunisia's Esperance 1-0 in Rades, the team's third successive continental victory under new coach Patrice Carteron.

Ahly, who also secured their third successive league win over Haras El-Hodoud on Friday, will be boosted by the return of key injured duo of goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawi and right-back Ahmed Fathi.

Attacking midfielder Mido Gaber, left-back Ayman Ashraf, midfielder Ahmed Hamoudi, and forward Phakamani Mahlambi have been all cleared fit for the match after suffering from different injuries recently. Veteran playmaker Walid Soliman will be the prominent absentee due to suspension.

Despite the recent fine run, Carteron said after Friday's league win that his team still needs more time and hard work to deliver better performances in the future.

"We play a match every three or four days, and we also miss some players due to fatigue or not playing regularly, so harmony doesn't exist," the former Mazembe and Wadi Degla coach explained.

"We need to work on strengthening our attacking line and having better harmony between our players, but at the same time we have a solid defensive line that stops the danger from our opponents."

"Ahly was at the bottom of the group when I took the charge, but I believe in Ahly and its fans. I am not stupid to imagine that we don't need extra work, but everything needs time," the 48-year-old Carteron concluded.

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