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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Preview: Time for revenge as Ahly meet Sundowns in mouthwatering clash

Ahram Online , Friday 28 Feb 2020
Ahly v Sundowns (Photo: AL-Ahram)

For a club of Ahly's pedigree, a humiliating 5-0 defeat at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns last season was too hard to swallow. But there is still room for revenge as both sides meet on Saturday.

Ahly, the record African Champions League winners with eight titles under their belt, host the South African outfit at Cairo Stadium in the first leg of the competition's quarters -- the same stage where they clashed last term.

The Red Devils do not need a reminder of the fiasco in Pretoria, where they suffered their worst ever loss in a continental competition. They won 1-0 back in Cairo but it was no more than a consolation.

Domestically, Ahly are in a league of their own, winning their first 16 matches in the Egyptian Premier League to come within just one victory of the record they set in the 2004/2005 season.

However, they have been inconsistent in the Champions League, advancing to the last eight only after surviving some frantic minutes at the end of their last group-stage game at Sudan's Al-Hilal.

Ahly will be roared on by their passionate crowd in Cairo, and the fans will be naturally looking for a response from their team following last season's humiliation, but unflappable Swiss coach Rene Weiler said the notion of revenge did not cross his mind.

 "I don’t like dwelling on the past," Weiler told the pre-match news conference.

"The game will be tough. Sundowns is a good team that won the Champions League in 2016 and won the domestic league several times. This kind of game needs different preparations and we are ready for this game physically and mentally."

Both sides will miss some key players for the anticipated clash.

Sundowns will have to do without injured full-backs Tebogo Langerman and Anele Ngcongca as well as defender Thapelo Morena.

Ahly, on the other hand, are missing influential winger Ramadan Sobhi as he still nurses a nagging hamstring complaint. New arrival Mahmoud Kahraba was also left out by Weiler in an apparent disciplinary measure.

Kahraba was banned by the Egyptian Football Association until the end of the season for his part in a melee that followed Ahly's loss to Cairo rivals Zamalek on penalties in the domestic Super Cup last week.

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