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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Ahly coach eyes Champions League final with Zamalek, ready for league resumption

'The Wydad confrontation is a very difficult one. Now the best four teams in Africa are in the semi-final and every team wants to win the title and work hard for that target'

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Tuesday 28 Jul 2020
Rene Weiler
Ahly coach Rene Weiler (Photo: Ahly's official website)
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Ahly will face a difficult test when they play against Morocco’s Wydad de Casablanca in the African Champions League two-legged semi-final, according to coach Rene Weiler, who also stressed that facing archrivals Zamalek in the prestigious tournament final would be great.

“The Wydad confrontation is a very difficult one. Now the best four teams in Africa are in the semi-final and every team wants to win the title and work hard for that target,” Weiler said in an interview with Ahly TV channel on Monday.

“Luck should stand behind the team that wants victory. Sure, good performance is a must, but we should also be lucky. We have a big chance to win the title,” added the 46-year-old coach, who recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Reds.

All continental sports activities have been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup, which were originally scheduled to be played on 1 May.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced last week that the Champions League semi-final will return to its two-leg format instead of the one-leg format recently approved by the CAF.

Record eight-time winners Ahly are supposed to face Wydad first in Morocco before playing the return match in Egypt, while Cairo rivals Zamalek will be facing Moroccan side Raja de Casablanca in the same round with the same order. The final dates for the matches have not been announced yet.

 “We should deliver a good game and win against Wydad in the first leg in Morocco to boost our chances in the return match. We dream of the Champions League title and we can achieve it,” the Ahly coach said.

“It would be easier if the semi-final was just one match, but I can adapt to any circumstances, and whether we play a match or two, we will play only to win and reach the final.

“Why don’t we face Zamalek in the final? It would be great to see Ahly and Zamalek in the final. Two teams from Egypt in the final is something special and in all cases our target is to win the title whether against Zamalek or Raja,” he added.

Ahly reached the final in 2017 and 2018 but lost to Wydad and Tunisia's Esperance respectively.

Ready for league resumption

Ahly resumed their training sessions on 24 June, gearing up for the resumption of the Egyptian Premier League in August.

The Cairo giants are firm favourites to win a fifth straight title as they top the table with 49 points after 17 games, 16 ahead of the nearest challengers Arab Contractors, who played one game more.

“I hoped to resume the league competition earlier like European leagues, but sadly we will be back late here in Egypt,” the coach explained.

“We had a good preparation and I think that once we resume the official matches, we will restore the same performance that we delivered ahead of the suspension.

“We have three friendly matches but I see that trainings are better than friendly matches. The players are completely ready for the league resumption,” he added.

No specific strategy

Weiler joined Ahly in August 2019 from the Swiss side FC Luzern, leading the team in 30 matches, winning 24 games, tying in four matches and losing only two matches in all competitions.

“I don’t rely on a specific playing strategy in our matches, as our strategy changes according to every match,” Weiler said.

“We achieved 75 percent of the targeted performance with Ahly and I think things will be better after the League returns,” he concluded.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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