Preview: Egypt's Ahly in make-or-break mission in Sudan

Ahram Online , Friday 31 Jan 2020

Record eight-time winners Ahly meet Sudan's Al-Hilal at 21:00 Cairo time (19:00 GMT) in a do-or-die African Champions League clash on Saturday

Ahly defeated Al-Hilal 2-1 in their home game at the African Champions League (Ahram)

Egypt's Ahly should make light of a typical raucous atmosphere in Omdurman if they are to avoid defeat against Sudanese giants Al-Hilal and advance to the African Champions League last eight on Saturday.

In a tight race in Group B, Ahly need only a draw on the road to secure passage to the quarter-finals as they chase their first title since winning the last of their record eight trophies in 2013.

Should they win, they will progress as the group winners.

Ahly, who are criticised for their away shortcomings this season, lead the group with 10 points, one ahead of Al-Hilal and Tunisia's Etoile Sahel, with Zimbabwe's Platinum lying at the bottom on a solitary point.

The Red Devils, who look formidable domestically, are likely to wave goodbye to Africa's premier club competition if they lose at Hilal, given that Etoile are expected to stroll past the already-eliminated Platinum at home.

Hilal have never lost to Ahly at home and famously eliminated their illustrious opponents from the Champions League preliminaries in 2004.

They also crushed Ahly 3-0 at their Omdurman fortress in the competition's group stage in 2007, although the Cairo club eventually reached the final that year.

Ahly are relentlessly marching to a fifth straight Egyptian league title, having collected maximum points from their opening 12 matches. However, their Champions League form, particularly in away games, has raised alarm bells.

They lost 1-0 at Etoile in their opening group-stage game before settling for a 1-1 draw away to Platinum, the only point the Zimbabwean side have managed to bag so far.

Ahly's Swiss coach Rene Weiler is known for adopting bold, attacking-minded strategies even in the toughest of games despite signs of defensive problems. The question is now whether such a mindset would be useful when the team entertain Al-Hilal at their venue.   

"We are fully ready for the Hilal match. We will play only to win, this is what we always do," Weiler told the pre-match news conference. 

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