File Photo: Ahly face rocky road against Esperance in CAF Champions League semis. AFP
The two North African powerhouses have a long-standing rivalry in the top continental competition, with Ahly maintaining the upper hand with a comfortable lead.
In 20 previous match-ups, Ahly walked with 10 victories and Esperance with four victories with six ending in a draw.
Fresh off their win in the Egyptian Super Cup over Pyramids FC last Friday, Ahly will enter the game against the Tunisian side at the Hamadi Agrebi Stadium in very high spirits, hoping to continue their recent impressive showings in all competitions in recent weeks.
The Red Devils will be trying to take advantage of Esperance's recent struggles in order to secure a positive result away from home.
Several key Esperance players are set to miss the clash against Ahly on Friday, including Libyan winger Hamdou Elhouni, international midfielder Ghailene Chaalali and Algerian forward Riad Benayad.
Esperance have failed to win in their last three matches across all competitions.
Compounding their woes, the Tunisian giants will be playing Ahly without the support of their enthusiastic fans, as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) ordered the club to play four home games behind closed doors after a recent fans' riot during the team's match against the Algerian side JSK in the quarter-final.
This year, Ahly are hoping to add an 11th Champions League title to their big wardrobe of trophies while the Tunisians are gunning for a fifth.
The second leg will be played in Cairo on 19 May.
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