Ahly are set for a tough match against Vita Club of the DR Congo in the 4th round of the 2021 African Champions League at Stade des Martyrs on Tuesday, as the Red Devils have to win against their hosts to secure a place in the quarterfinals.
The Cairo giants suffered a disappointing 2-2 draw at Cairo International Stadium in the third round of the Group A games last week, placing the team in the third spot in Group A, sharing the same four points with Vita Club, who are sitting at the second spot.
“We have no choice but to win during the game against Vita Club to be able to march on in the African Champions League,” Ahly Coach Pitso Mosimane told the pregame press conference.
Ahly arrived in Kinshasa early on Saturday in a private jet to get a head start on preparations for the expected showdown.
“Ahly came to the DR Congo to achieve victory over Vita Club, as the team have a clear target, [which is to] return to Cairo with the game’s points,” Mosimane said.
The Red Devils dominated last week’s game against Vita Club, launching wave after wave of attacks but only found the net when striker duo Mohamed Sherif and Marwan Mohsen came off the bench in the second half.
“We played a superb game in Cairo against Vita Club, but it’s the football that sometimes introduces a result against the game’s sequence,” Mosimane added.
“We were close to beating Vita Club in Cairo, but we were held to a 2-2 draw, after losing more chances to score,” the South African coach lamented.
Meanwhile, Ahly Football Director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz revealed that winger Taher Mohamed Taher, midfielder Amr El-Sulaya, and right-back Mohamed Hani are all fit for the anticipated match after recovering from various injuries that put them in doubt ahead of the game.
However, the Reds will miss influential left-back Ali Maaloul in the Tuesday game, as he faces up to three more weeks on the sidelines after aggravating a hamstring injury sustained last month.
Ahly skipper Mohamed El-Shennawi confirmed that his teammates have the ability to achieve victory over Vita Club to march on in defending their African title.
“We have all the tools to achieve victory over Vita Club, including the experience in dealing with such critical situations as well as the fans’ support,” El-Shennawi told the press conference.
“Despite the game’s difficulty, Ahly players [will be] able to achieve victory as they did in the previous edition of the tournament when we succeeded in winning the trophy,” the goalkeeper said.
Meanwhile, Vita Club Coach Florent Ibengé revealed that he will be making the best use of the expected warm, sunny weather in Kinshasa during the game.
Vita Club opted to play at 3pm, knowing full well high temperatures could adversely affect the Red Devils' players who come from a winter season in Egypt.
“I hope the weather will be hot on game day, [so we can] give the Egyptian team a lesson [after] what they did with our players, when they chose to play at night in the cold weather,” Ibengé told a television programme late on Sunday.
Ahly and Vita Club will fight to secure a place in the quarterfinals, as they share the same points behind surprise package Tanzanian side Simba S.C, who are in the driving seat of Group A with 7 points, while Al-Merrikh of Sudan are in the tail with only one point.
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