Preview: Egypt's Ahly face Tunisia’s Esperance in final show of CAF Champions League

Mahmoud Elassal , Friday 24 May 2024

The stage is set for a dramatic conclusion to the CAF Champions League as Egyptian giants Ahly host Tunisia's Esperance de Tunis in the second leg of the final on Saturday at Cairo International Stadium.



Defending champions Ahly seek to extend their African reign with a record-extending 12th title, while Esperance aim for their fifth continental crown, their first since 2019.

These two powerhouses boast a history of fierce clashes in the CAF Champions League.

They met in the 2012 final, where Ahly emerged victorious with a 3-2 aggregate win.

However, the script flipped in 2018, with Esperance claiming the title with a 4-3 aggregate victory.

The first leg of the current edition ended in a tense goalless draw in Tunisia

"Those who witnessed the first leg know it's a very even contest," said Ahly coach Marcel Koller at a pre-match press conference on Friday. 

"It won't be straightforward," he added, emphasizing his focus on ensuring his players are prepared for any challenge.

Maaloul’s absence

Ahly will face a setback as veteran defender Ali Maaloul will be sidelined after he underwent surgery earlier this week for an Achilles tendon injury.

"We have a capable replacement for Maaloul, and we're confident they'll deliver a strong performance," Koller assured. 

"We've prepared for all scenarios and are ready for anything," he concluded.

The 34-year-old sustained the injury during the first minutes of the first leg goalless draw in Tunisia and left the pitch for Karim Fouad.

Esperance depth squad

Esperance, meanwhile, boasts a squad with depth and in-form players.

Goalkeeper Amanallah Memmiche has impressed throughout the tournament. Meanwhile, experienced defender Yassine Meriah is fit for the second leg alongside key attacking figures like Yan Sasse, Rodrigo Rodrigues, and Ghaylen Chaalali.

Esperance coach Miguel Cardoso expressed his unwavering faith in his squad.

"My tactics are built around the belief in my players – they are giants for this team," he declared.

"We've meticulously prepared for this final, and our ultimate goal is to lift the trophy," affirmed the Portuguese coach.

The winner of the CAF Champions League will face the recent Confederation Cup winner, Zamalek, in the 2024 Africa Super Cup next June.

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