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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Preview: Ahly in quest for seventh African Super Cup title against RS Berkane

Ahly are a record six-time winners of the Super Cup, as the club lifted the trophy in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014

Ahram Online , Thursday 27 May 2021
Ahly
Ahly defender Yasser Ibrahim celebrates after scoring against Sundowns in Pretoria 1-1 (Photo: AFP)
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A euphoric Ahly side will be looking for a seventh African Super Cup title on Friday when they face Moroccan side RS Berkane – the winner of the Confederation Cup – at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in the Qatari Capital.

The African champions got a huge moral boost after overcoming South African giants Sundowns in the Champions League quarters earlier this week, advancing into the competition's semis before heading to Qatar for another challenge.

"Now is time to celebrate our success against Sundowns, but tomorrow we have to focus on the Super Cup," Ahly's Football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz told his players after the Sundowns clash on Saturday.

"This title has been out of the club since 2014. It is not acceptable and we have to regain the title," he added.

Ahly are a record six-time winners of the Super Cup, as the club lifted the trophy in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2014.

After regaining the Champions League title last term for the first time since 2013, Ahly are looking to add the Super Cup title to crown a very successful season that saw the club win a historical treble (domestic league, Egypt Cup and African Champions League).

"Ahly won the CAF Super Cup six times, but most of the current players have not won it before so we want to do it for the seventh time and make our fans happy," Ahly's Keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi told the pre-match news conference on Thursday.

“We are working very hard as a team and know well our responsibilities,” he added.

Another factor that makes the team's technical staff happy is that they regained all their injured players before the game.

Ahly headed to Qatar with a list of 26 players as team coach Pitso Mosimane will be allowed to use all his guns for the first time in a long while.

The South African coach had to play during the past period with a limited squad given the big number of injuries that hit his players lately, but now he will face a selection headache before Friday's clash.

Tunisian fullback Ali Maaloul has been declared fit for the game after spending around three months on the sidelines.

Midfielder Hamdi Fathi will be also available for the Friday clash after recovering from a hand fracture, but the duo’s participation depends on the decision of the coach.

Even injury-prone midfielder Karim 'Nedvid' Walid, who had been out of action for nearly two years, is medically fit to play against RS Berkane.

"During the past weeks, we had many tough games in the league and in the CAF Champions League, in addition to many travels. We will make sure to be well prepared. Maybe we are physically tired, but we are mentally ready," coach Mosimane told the pre- match news conference  

"It is a tough game, and we want to win the trophy. We’ve been in a camp for a long time since the Mamelodi Sundowns game and now we are here to win," Mosimane added.

On the other hand, the Moroccan side seek the Super Cup title to rescue their season after their poor results on all fronts this season.

RS Berkane, who ended the last season as third in the Moroccan league with 57 points, three points behind leaders Raja Casablanca, are now in 11th place with 23 points.

The Moroccan side played 18 matches in the domestic league so far, winning six games, losing seven and holding in five.

They also failed to go through the Confederation Cup group stage after ending third in their Group B with eight points behind JSK of Algeria and Cameroonian side Coton Sports, as the two sides advanced to the last eight.

“This is a different competition from the domestic one,” RS Berkane coach Pedro Benali told the pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"In the league we had many injured and fatigued players. But now we have had enough time to prepare for this game.

"We respect Ahly a lot, but there is no place for fear. This is a football game, and we have our chances too.

"We need to be ready for any scenario and will be prepared for everything," he concluded.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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