Tactical view (Ahly v Wydad): Mosimane likely to take cautious approach

Karim Farouk , Monday 30 May 2022

In two-legged knockout ties, the firm attacking strategies that Pitso Mosimane adopted at home saw Ahly destroy their African Champions League opponents. A shift in that approach might be needed though in Monday's final against Wydad.

Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane


Ahly would not have a home advantage and were not allowed to play at a neutral venue as the final will take place at Wydad's Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca after CAF said Morocco was the only bidder to stage the game.

Given that it's a one-off final, Mosimane might be compelled to make some tweaks.  

The South African has often changed systems throughout this campaign, moving from a 3-4-3 to a 4-2-3-1 and most recently 4-4-2 scheme.

He started the season with the 3-4-3 formation, deploying defensive midfielder Hamdi Fathi in a deep role to provide strength to his backline. However, he had to revert to his usual 4-2-3-1 scheme, especially when playing in the local league against teams with low-block defences.

This classic Ahly formation provides more intensity upfront and gives playmaker Mohamed "Afsha" Magdi the perfect chance to make full use of his capabilities, which include dictating play, moving between the lines and creating chances from his usual number 10 position.

Against Algeria's ES Setif in the African Champions League semi-final, Mosimane used a 4-4-2 formation that featured pacy forwards Mohamed Sherif, Percy Tau and Taher Mohamed Taher during both legs to unsettle their deep and shaky defence. The maneuver paid off with a 6-2 win on aggregate.

But Mosimane might not gamble in a single-leg encounter against Wydad, at least in the opening stages of the game.

The shrewd tactician, who will play in his fourth Champions League final, might opt for a cautious approach to provide cover for his defence against a fearsome Wydad attack spearheaded by Congolese striker Guy Mbenza.

The Red Devils' backline has not been one of their strength points this year, conceding 11 goals in 12 Champions League games (Ahly shipped six goals during their entire 13-game triumphant campaign last season) and another 11 in 16 league games.

Mosimane had to reshuffle his defence due to numerous injuries that hit his centre backs, with the lengthy absence of Morocco defender Badr Benoun, who has been out since December with COVID-19 complications, and different knocks picked up by Rami Rabia, Yasser Ibrahim, Ayman Ashraf and Mohamed Abdel-Moneim leaving him short of options on many occasions.

Egypt defender Abdel-Moneim will not be available for the Wydad clash as he has not recovered from a groin injury yet.  

Versatile midfielder Fathi may be deployed between Ayman Ashraf and the in-form Yasser Ibrahim to tighten up in the center and allow full backs Mohamed Hani and Ali Maaloul to push upfield, into positions where they can deliver their trademark crosses.

High up the pitch, Ahly have plenty of options but Tau, trickster Ahmed Abdel-Kader and Taher are likely to feature in a three-pronged attack.

The team has matured to alter between different schemes and we may see several of these variations during Monday's game.

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

Short link: