Preview: Ahly to face Sudanese Al-Hilal in CAF Champions League amid tight security

Mahmoud Sheleib , Thursday 17 Feb 2022

The titleholders Ahly will play their first game in the African Champions League group stage in Sudan against Al-Hilal on Friday behind closed doors due to security fears.

File photo: Ahly vs Al-Hilal.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided on Wednesday to ban fans from attending the Ahly-Al-Hilal game at the Blue Jewel Stadium, after giving an earlier decision allowing 15,000 fans to attend the Friday clash.

CAF didn’t reveal in its letter to the Sudanese club the reasons behind the ban, but it was reported that it became because of fears related to security and safety.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) thanked the CAF for protecting Ahly’s mission to Sudan. However, the decision angered Al-Hilal officials, who claimed that the CAF does not care about the Sudanese Football Association.

Ahly will be opening their group stage matches by facing Al-Hilal, as the Reds’ first game against the other Sudanese side in the group Al-Merrikh was postponed owing to Ahly’s participation at the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Reds will still be missing their skipper and main pillar goalie Mohamed Al-Shennawi, who was injured during Egypt’s game against Cote d’Ivoire in the round of 16 of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which ended earlier this month.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old striker Hossam Hassan was included on the team’s squad list traveling to Sudan after the player recovered from an injury he had picked in the EFA Cup.

The team’s 57-year-old South African coach Pitso Mosimane, who helped the Reds to win two African Champions League titles in row, revealed that the team focusing all their concentration to win their first group stage game against Al-Hilal.

“The team's main goal is to win the African Champions League. We are ready for Al-Hilal match, and the starting kick in the group stage is always difficult, and all teams have equal chances and great motives,” Mosimane told the pre-game press conference.

“Ahly always play to win every match, and this does not mean that facing Al-Hilal will be easy. It will be a difficult game for both teams,” he added.

Al-Hilal have lost 0-1 in their first game of the group stage against South African side Mamelodi Sundowns, in Group A which also includes Ahly and Al-Merrikh.

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