Preview: Ahly seeking to dispel doubts in CL clash against Vita Club

Ahram Online , Friday 5 Mar 2021

Ahly opened their Group A campaign by defeating Sudan's Al-Merreikh 3-0 before suffering a surprise 1-0 loss at Tanzania's Simba FC

Ahly v Simba
Ahly lost to Simba in their previous Champions League game

Ahly are out to dispel any doubts stemming from a shock 1-0 defeat at Tanzanian side Simba as they host DR Congo's Vita Club in an African Champions League Group A match on Saturday.

The Red Devils, who won a record-extending ninth Champions League crown last season, were expected to seal smooth progress to the knockout phase this term after being drawn in a relatively easy group.

They kicked off their Group A campaign in convincing fashion, crushing Sudan's Al-Merreikh 3-0 in Cairo.

However, they were stunningly outplayed by a silky Simba side in Dar es Salaam last month, with their unfancied opponents claiming an upset victory that put the Tanzanians on top of the group with maximum six points.

Ahly, who are level on three points with Vita Club, were also sluggish in an Egyptian Premier League game against lowly Talae El-Gaish as they needed a stoppage-time goal from Junior Ajayi to spare their blushes and secure a comeback win.

The recent dip in form has prompted some Ahly fans to question the tactics of South African coach Pitso Mosimane, who has guided the team to a famous victory over Zamalek in the Champions League final and an Egypt Cup triumph since his arrival in October last year.

"We need to win against Vita Club to get a step closer to the next round. It will be a very difficult game espcially as it is against a strong team but we are determined and will fight to win," Mosimane said in the pre-match press conference on Friday.

"Also we need the win espcially as we play at home and also to amend the loss in the last round against Simba.

"We played the openeing match while various players were absent due to different injuries, but finally we achieved our target and managed to win. We are able to deal with the current injury crisis," the Ahy coach added.

Mosimane is criticized for tweaking with his starting line-up too often, with the front three in particular unable to operate in tandem.

"The game against Vita Club is very important because we want to make up for the loss to Simba," Ahly's assistant coach Sami Komsan said.

"We have prepared well for the game as Vita Club are a tough opponent."

Ahly will miss veteran winger Walid Soliman and Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul due to injuries.

Attacking midfielder Mahmoud Kahraba is also out after being suspended by the club for one month after reportedly protesting against a decision by Mosimane to start him on the bench against El-Gaish.

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