Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry has praised prolific star Mohamed Barakat insisting that the player made the difference in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with rivals Zamalek in the final round of CAF Champions League group stage.
“Barakat made the difference against Zamalek. I had an agreement with the player to use him in the second half to put more pressure on Zamalek players who have low fitness levels,” El-Badry said in the press conference after the match.
Being shocked with a first-half goal from Zamalek’s diminutive playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim, Ahly recovered to avoid a tricky semi-final clash against title holders Esperance thanks to a 62nd-minute goal by substitute Barakat.
The Red Devils, who are on top of Group B with 11 points, will face Nigeria’s Sunshine Stars in the semis while Mazembe will take on defending champions Esperance.
“Avoiding Esperance was one of our goals but finally playing with Sunshine is not an advantage as it is not an easy team,” explained El-Badry.
“Zamalek is progressing well and I was confident that they will consider the match as a separate tournament,” added the Cairo giants coach.
On the other side, Zamalek coach Coach Jorvan Vieira has praised Ahly’s goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy despite of playing an instrumental role to prevent his team from a deserved win.
“The team’s performance is becoming better and we are on the right track. We lost a deserved win thanks to the match hero Sherif Ekramy,” said Vieira.
“Zamalek players were afraid of playing against Ahly but this feeling will disappear if they continued to perform well in the coming matches,” he added.
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