Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul has warned his players of the speed and pace of Al-Hilal players ahead of their CAF Champions League semi-final first leg clash in Oum Durman on Sunday.
“The Sudanese play on counters. They have a good offensive animation and are very quick in their attacks. Edward Sadomba (the competition’s top scorer) is one of their biggest threats but he isn’t the only one,” Maaloul told a press conference on Thursday night before travelling to Sudan.
“It is probably our toughest game of the competition, so we must be very cautious. However, we are going to win the match and that’s our aim,” he added.
Esperance - who missed last year’s trophy to a scintillating TP Mazembe team - are big favourites to play the final of the 2011 alongside with former champions Enyimba who will face Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca on Saturday.
“We have improved a lot this year and worked on the psychological aspect, but this game will have to be won on the pitch seeing that we will be deprived of our fans during the return leg, according to the CAF sanctions.”
The Tunisians haven’t lost a game in this competition since their 2-0 defeat against ASPAC from Benin in the second round, but they went through on a 5-2 aggregate.
Talking about the probable line-up and the possibility of dropping skipper and inspirational midfielder Oussama Darragi like he did against Ahly in the final game of the Group stage, Maaloul said: “It will be a very tactical game and I have to pick my best options. Darragi is one of our best players, but I couldn’t field him and Msakni in Cairo, the latter excelled during the game. However, both teams know each other well, and I’ll try to impose my style on the pitch.”
Esperance are looking for Africa’s top trophy since their first and only title in 1994.