Preview: Title holders Ahly commence African CL campaign against Ethiopia’s Saint George

Mahmoud Elassal , Saturday 23 Sep 2023

Reigning champions Ahly are set to begin their title defense in the African Champions League against Ethiopia's Saint George in the Round of 32 first leg, which will take place in Cairo on Sunday.

Al-Ahly Midfielder Dieng fights for the ball during the match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry on 19 September, 2023. Photo courtesy of Al-Ahly.


Saint George advanced to the Round of 32 by defeating KMKM Zanzibar of Tanzania 4-3 on aggregate in the previous round last month.

Ahly is expected to have a relatively straightforward task as they will play both legs of the tie in Cairo, since the Ethiopian team does not have a registered home stadium recognized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The Cairo giants will have the backing of 30,000 fans at Cairo Stadium after the approval of local authorities. 

Ahly will be without several key players including newly signed French striker Anthony Modeste, who is not eligible for this round, Moroccan winger Reda Selim, who is serving a two-game suspension with his previous team FAR Rabat, alongside veteran midfielder Amr El-Sulaya and defender Mahmoud Metwally, due to injuries.

On a positive note, talented South African winger Percy Tau has recovered from a muscular injury sustained during the 4-0 victory over Masry in the first matchday of the Egyptian League and will be fit for the game.

Ahly's football director, Khaled Bibo, said he has confidence in the team's ability to continue on their winning start following the triumph over Masry.

Ahly's Swiss coach, Marcel Koller, is expected to field wingers Hussein El-Shahat and Mahmoud 'Kahraba' Abdel-Moneim, who missed the league game against Masry due to suspension, against Saint George.

Ahly clinched their 11th African Champions League title last season by defeating Wydad Athletic Club 3-2 on aggregate in the final.

The second leg of the Round of 32 against Saint George of Ethiopia will be held on Friday 29 September.

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