Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry implied that he would not get intoa war of words with Esperance counterpart Nabil Maaloul, who controversially said the Egyptian giants were delighted to be avoiding his team in the African Champions League semi-finals.
A 1-1 draw with arch-rivals Zamalek on Sunday helped Ahly finish on top of Group B in the continent’s premier club competition, setting them up for a semi-final clash with the Sunshine Stars of Nigeria.
They avoided a tricky clash against title-holders and Group A winners Esperance, who have knocked Ahly out of the competition in the previous two years.
Speaking after the Tunisians lost 1-0 to ASO Chlef in their last group-stage game, Maaloul said the joy Ahly players and technical staff members displayed following the Cairo derby against Zamalek underscored Esperance’s strength.
“I’m only focused on our semi-final game against the Sunshine Stars. Our meeting will be in the final, God willing,” El-Badry said, referring to Esperance who are seeking to win a second consecutive Champions League title.
In contrast, Ahly defender Wael Gomaa opted to hit out at Maaloul, accusing the Tunisian coach of playing mind games.
“Maaloul knows well that Ahly are the strongest team in Africa, but he is just attempting to derail our team’s progress,” the Egyptian international said.
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