Preview: Ahly pursue 12th CAF Champions League title against Tunisia’s Esperance

Mahmoud Elassal , Friday 17 May 2024

Egyptian powerhouse Ahly are determined to secure their 12th CAF Champions League title as they visit Esperance of Tunisia at Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi in the first leg of the continental tournament's final on Saturday.

ahly
(Photo: Ahly official twitter account)

 

The clash between the two teams heightens the excitement surrounding this prestigious event, as they have a history of heated confrontations in the CAF competition.

Ahly's Triumph and Esperance's Redemption

In 2012, Ahly claimed the title by defeating Esperance 3-2 on aggregate.

However, in 2018, the Tunisian giants had their moment when they emerged victorious with a 4-3 aggregate win.

Now, defending champions Ahly are determined to showcase their longevity and dominance in African football by clinching their 12th Champions League title, while Esperance seeks their fifth title and the first since their triumphant campaign in 2019.

Road to the Final

Ahly's path to the final was paved with an impressive 3-0 aggregate victory over TP Mazembe of DR Congo in the semifinals of the continental tournament.

The Red Devils displayed dominance throughout the matches, solidifying their place in the championship clash.

On the other hand, Esperance secured their spot in the final by achieving a 2-0 aggregate win over Mamelodi Sundowns FC of South Africa in the semifinals, proving their mettle against strong opponents.

Players' Readiness

Ahly received a significant boost with the return of goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy and Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng, who both have successfully recovered from their injuries.

However, Ahly will face some challenges during the final as midfielders Amr El-Soulaya and Ahmed Nabil, wingers Ahmed Abdel-Kader, Taher Mohamed, and Mohamed Dhaoui, will be unavailable for various reasons.

Esperance, on the other side, enters the game with a depth squad featuring in-form goalkeeper Amanallah Memmiche, who has caught attention during the current edition of the continental tournament.

Veteran defender Yassine Meriah is also fit for the game, alongside attacking midfielder Yan Sasse, striker Rodrigo Rodrigues, and midfielder Ghaylen Chaalali.

A Formidable Challenge

Ahly players gear up for a significant challenge against Esperance de Tunis, while the Tunisian players hope for good luck.

"Certainly, the match against Esperance is difficult; we are well aware it's a final and against a great opponent with a history of winning championships," veteran goalkeeper and captain El-Shennawy said.

Ahly's midfielder Emam Ashour dreams of his first Champions League title, while forward Percy Tau expressed eagerness to contribute to the club's history.

Defender Ali Maaloul stressed that past victories do not guarantee success, stating, "The team that plays better during the 90 minutes is the one who wins."

Defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim emphasized, "Finals have no big names."

Esperance defender Meriah believes the game will be difficult, hoping for good luck during the game as he and his teammates have prepared well for the crunch showdown.

"Ahly is a big team with a great history in the tournament, and Esperance is also a big team, so I hope to concentrate well during the game," Meriah said ahead of the game.

"We have to concentrate well, especially in defense, as well as making use of the available scoring chances, as we have 180 minutes to achieve the title," the Tunisian star added.

The final's second leg is scheduled to be held at the Cairo International Stadium on 25 May.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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