Preview: Ahly likely to seal passage to CL quarters despite below-par displays

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Apr 2022

While Ahly are expected to seal passage to the African Champions League quarters when they host Sudan's Al-Hilal in their final Group A game on Sunday, they need to look beyond and address some concerns before they resume their bid for another title.

Ahly v Al-Hilal
Ahly were held to a 0-0 draw away to Sudan s Al-Hilal in their first Group A meeting in Omdurman (Ahram)

The Red Devils, who are second in the group with seven points, need only a draw against Al-Hilal in Cairo to join South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns in the knockout phase.

Al-Hilal, third on four points, must cause a huge upset and beat Ahly on the road to advance virtue of a better head-to-head record, with their Omdurman clash having ended in a goalless draw in February.

Ahly are bidding to become the first team in Africa to win a hat-trick of successive Champions League titles, but to do so they will need to plug some gaps in their defence, which has been uncharacteristically porous.

Although the Cairo giants were expected to face little resistance in their group, which also includes another Sudanese side in Merreikh, they found themselves struggling at some occasions.

They shipped five goals in as many games, were beaten home and away by Sundowns and survived a home scare against Merreikh only after scoring a late goal.

Ahly welcome back their Egyptian internationals following the disappointment of a shootout loss to Senegal in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff in Dakar, which saw the Pharaohs miss out on a place at the Qatar finals later this year.

Coach Pitso Mosimane is likely to thrust them back into action against Al-Hilal, although defender Rami Rabia is ruled out with a hamstring injury and key central defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim doubtful after fracturing his nose in the first leg against Senegal.

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