Ahly coach defends striker Azaro ahead of Etoile du Sahel clash

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Wednesday 27 Sep 2017

Ahly coach hints at making changes in the squad ahead of the anticipated match against Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in the first leg of the the African Champions League semi-final

Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry (photo: the club's official website)

Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry has defended striker Walid Azaro – who has faced criticism after his humble performance in recent games – hinting that changes could be made to the Reds' squad against Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in the African Champions League semis.

"I put into consideration [Azaro's] morale after being recently omitted from the Moroccan national team," El-Badry told an Egyptian radio station on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Azaro joined Ahly this summer from Morocco's Difaâ El-Jadidi.

"I am fully confident of Azaro's abilities. His performance under criticism means that he has more positive aspects than negative ones, in my view. He was a key reason we scored two goals against Esperance in the quarter finals' first leg," the coach said.

"The player needs some work, as he started his mission with Ahly under difficult circumstances. Sometimes he gets nervous as he knows he plays for a big club like Ahly, but we have benefited a lot from his speed," he added.

Possible squad changes in CL semis

The Tunisian side, who qualified for the semis after a 2-0 aggregate win over Libya's Ahly Tripoli, will host Ahly in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final in Sousse on Sunday before heading to Alexandria on 22 October for the second leg.

"There could possibly be changes in our squad against Etoile du Sahel, but I will not speak about technical issues or our strategy," El-Badry explained.

"We know that our mission will be more difficult in the next match, especially after eliminating a Tunisian team in the quarters. We also know the hard circumstances of the pitch and fan attendance."

"I don't choose my squad according to fan requests. Despite my deep respect for the fans, each match needs its own tactics," the 57-year-old coach concluded.

Ahly, who are bidding for the first Champions league title since 2013, booked a last-four berth at the expense of another Tunisian side in Esperance, beating them 4-3 on aggregate.

Despite being held to a 2-2 draw at home by Esperance, the record eight-time winners Ahly went through with a 2-1 comeback win in Rades.

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