Preview: Ahly in must-win situation against Al-Merrikh in complicated Champions League group

Mahmoud Sheleib , Thursday 17 Mar 2022

Ahly will have only to win in their clash against their Sudanese opponent Al-Merrikh on Friday in the fifth round of the African Champions League group stage to qualify for the quarterfinal..

File Photo Ahly winger Ahmed Abdel-Kader in action during the game against Merrikh, on 5 March, 2022. Photo courtesy of Al-Ahly Facebook page.

While the South African side Mamelodi Sundowns secured their passage to the quarterfinal after collecting 10 points from their first four games, the race for the second qualifying spot is wide open, with Ahly, and both Al-Merrikh and Al Hilal of Sudan all tied with four points each.

The ten-time and last two editions' defending African champions Ahly have failed to meet expectations after they were stunned by Sundowns, who completed a double against them (1-0 in both games), and now they will have to dig deep to qualify.

“We put ourselves in this difficult situation and we are also capable of getting ourselves out of it. We have to win our next two games. We have a lot of experienced players who will guide their teammates to achieve our goal,” Ahly's defender Ayman Ashraf told the pre-match press conference.

Ahly have been suffering from fatigue as of late, especially after returning from their FIFA Club World Cup participation last month, due to a busy schedule.

“Pressure is a part of Ahly’s routine, and since I took charge of the team I live in these conditions, especially as the team is required to win all the competitions we play,” Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane told the pre-match press conference.

“I prefer to play in such conditions of pressure and winning titles with the team. A team of the size of Ahly and the experiences of its players can deal and achieve its goals under the most difficult circumstances,” he added.

Except for long-term absentees Moroccan defender Badr Benoun and right-back Akram Rawfik, the Reds are almost at full strength, especially after the return of duo right backs Mohamed Hany and Karim Fouad.

Ahly’s squad:

Goalkeepers: Mohamed Al-Shennawi, Ali Lotfi, Mostafa Shobeir

Defenders: Yaaser Ibrahim, Ayman Ashraf, Mohamed Abdel-Moneim, Mohamed Hany, Karim Fouad, Mahmoud Wahid, Ali Maaloul

Midfielders: Aliou Deing, Hamdi Fathi, Amr Solaya, Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdi, Ahmed Abdel Kader, Mohamed Mahmoud, Taher Mohamed, Hussein El-Shahat, Luis Miquissone, Percy Tau

Strikers: Hossam Hassan, Mohamed Sherif

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