Preview: Mission impossible as Ahly aim to keep alive slim chances in Morocco
Hatem Maher , Tuesday 26 Jul 2016


When record winners Ahly meet Wydad Casablanca away from home on Wednesday, they will be aware that even a win will not guarantee them a place in the African Champions League semi-final after a disastrous start to their Group A campaign.

But at least claiming all three points would keep alive their slim chances of booking a last-four berth following two opening defeats by ZESCO United and ASEC Mimosas and a dull 0-0 draw at home to Wydad.

Ahly, who won the last of their record eight trophies in 2013, lie at the bottom with a solitary point, behind leaders Wydad (7 points), ZESCO (6) and ASEC (3) with three matches to go.

They will most probably need to win their remaining games to stand a genuine chance of going through but given their current form, this remains highly unlikely.

Pressure is mounting on Dutch coach Martin Jol despite Ahly's triumphant Egyptian Premier League campaign, with critics saying winning the domestic competition on its own is hardly a success by the team's high standards.

"We are in a rebuilding phase following the departure of some players and we know well that we have no choice but to win tomorrow," the former Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham boss told the pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"Ahly used to win this competition and we know how special it is for the fans, so we will do our best to get back in contention to qualify for the semi-final."

The Red Devils have recently struggled for creativity, having found it difficult to cope without highly-rated youngster Ramadan Sobhi who completed an anticipated move to English Premier League club Stoke City for a fee that could rise to 6 million euros on Monday.

Gabonese striker Malick Evouna, who made a fine impact in his first and only season with Ahly, also left for China's Tianjin Teda while playmaker Abdallah El-Saied remains out due to an injury.

Egyptian international striker Marwan Mohsen, who joined from Ismaily last week, might be the man to fill the void left by Evouna after being registered in Ahly's Champions League squad ahead of the Wydad clash.

Ahly faced a rough ride in the home game, which took place in Alexandria, and Wydad could have even snatched a surprise win after wasting two clear-cut chances either side of the interval.

"We are fully ready and we can make up for the absences," added Jol, whose fate might hinge on whether Ahly can advance and continue their bid towards a record-extending ninth triumph.

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