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Preview: Egypt's Ahly look to maintain position as group-toppers in Vita Club game

Ahmad Hassan, Friday 8 Mar 2019
Martin Lasarte
Ahly’s Uruguayan tactician Martin Lasarte during a press conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 8, 2019. Photo: Ahly’s official website
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Ahly will be looking to boost their position in charge of their CAF Champions League group when they take on Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the  fifth matchday of the group stage in Kinshasa Saturday.

The Cairo giants are in high spirits after a superb winning streak in the Egyptian league that saw them overthrow big-spending Pyramids FC from second position and close the gap with arch-rivals and table-toppers Zamalek to a mere one point, although the latter have a game in hand. 

Ahly’s last 4-0 Egyptian Premier League win over Petroject on Monday witnessed the return of the team’s Moroccan striker Walid Azaro, who will be fit for the penultimate Champions League group after he had been off for two months with a groin injury.

The 23-year-old was fielded for only 15 minutes in Ahly’s ninth straight league win, but is expected to be among the starting 11 against Vita Club.

The team will be missing keeper Sherif Ekramy, January-signed midfielder Hamdi Fathi and striker Marwan Mohsen, all due to injury.

“We enter tomorrow’s game with one target which is winning and securing all three points in order to qualify to the quarter final,” Ahly’s Uruguayan tactician Martin Lasarte told a press conference on Friday.

“I know Vita Club well and I know how difficult they are when they play at home but our players have the needed experience to overcome any difficulties,” the 57-year-old manager added.

Ahly will have to feature against the Congolese side on artificial grass, a surface which poses a challenge to the players.

“I talked to the players about the importance of the game and the necessity of securing a positive result. I explained the duties of every player over the pitch in order to win the gamed regardless of any challenges such as the crowd pressure or the pitch surface,” Lasarte told reporters.

Ahly, who have reached the last two finals of the competition but tasted defeat on both occasions, to Moroccan Wydad AC and Tunisian Esperance respectively, top their group on seven points.

Tanzanian Simba are second on six points, JS Saoura of Algeria are third on five points, while Vita Club sit last on four points.

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