Holders Ahly will be facing a tough mission in securing an early qualification bid when they face stiff opponents Simba S.C. of Tanzania in the second round of the African Champions League Group Stage on Tuesday.
The Tanzanian side will be hosting the Cairo giants at the National Stadium in a do-or-die mission for the two sides, both of whom aim to continue their strong start in the prestigious competition Group Stage.
Playing away from home, Ahly's mission will not be an easy one, especially after seeing their hosts beat strong rivals Vita Club of DR Congo 1-0 away from home in the Group Stage opening game last week.
The nine-time African Champions Ahly kicked off the six-match Group Stage campaign by defeating Sudan’s Al-Merrikh 3-0 last week at home to get in the driver’s seat of Group A with three points, sharing the same points with group opponents Simba.
Ahly's South African coach Pitso Mosimane said his team respects their opponents Simba, while insisting that securing an early qualification to the quarters is a priority for his team in this edition.
"We are looking at the Group Stage in a different way this time as we seek to ensure qualification early, unlike last season, which witnessed qualifying from last round after passing Sudan's Al-Hilal," Mosimane said in the pre-match press conference on Monday.
“We are fully concentrated on the Simba game and are not focusing on the past.”
Mosimane also said that he does not have specific plans to deal with the weather in Tanzania, but assured that any technical changes would be made only to beat Simba.
"Simba is an outstanding team, but we came here only to win and we believe that we are facing a strong opponent that has great popularity at home.
"I studied Simba well and they have excellent players. It will be a big game against a strong and well-organised team, but we are targeting a positive result to ensure early qualification," he concluded.
On Tuesday, Ahly will go without key players left back Ali Maaloul, winger Taher Mohamed Taher, and striker Salah Mohsen due to different injuries.
Meanwhile, Ahly’s efficient defender Ayman Ashraf was cleared fit for the Simba game after recovering from a muscle injury, while striker Marwan Mohsen could be available after re-joining training.
"Ahly was negatively affected by the hard matches at the Club World Cup, and that was the main reason behind the recent various injuries, as we played three matches in just nine days. We will benefit from the experiences that we got during the Club World Cup matches," added Mosimane, who guided Ahly to clinch the bronze medal at the Club World Cup.
On the other side, Simba coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa expressed full confidence in his players to deliver an outstanding performance against the title holders.
"I asked my players to entertain while facing Ahly and also to deliver their best during the match," Da Rosa told ON Sport TV channel on Saturday.
"I hope that a big number of fans will attend in the stands, as it will be a big game," he added.
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