Preview: Ahly in a straightforward task against Esperance in Champions League semis

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 May 2023

Egyptian side Ahly appear to have an easy mission on Friday when they host Esperance de Tunis at Cairo stadium in the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals.

(Photo: Ahly official twitter account)


The Red Devils are heavily favored to secure their spot in the final, having won the first leg in Tunis 3-0 a week earlier.

Despite their comfortable advantage, Ahly coach Marcel Koller is taking the game seriously to avoid any surprises that can occur in football.

"Our first leg win does not mean that we have reached the final," said the Swiss coach in the pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"We haven't qualified for the final yet. It happens many times in Europe that teams overturned their first-leg deficit.

"We will not underestimate our opponent. We will be fully concentrated and play with our full squad as anything is possible in football," he concluded.

Ahly's only absence for this clash will be international keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who will miss the game due to a calf injury sustained during the first leg in Tunisia.

He is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks and should be ready before the final if Ahly manages to overcome their Tunisian opponent.

On the other hand, the Tunisian side will have a mountain to climb during this game since they appeared incapable of posing any problems to the Cairo giants in the first leg.

Injuries that hit Esperance before the first leg left the team without many key players, such as Libyan winger Hamdou Elhouni, international midfielder Ghailene Chaalali, Algerian forward Riad Benayad, and international keeper Moez ben Cherifia, all of whom missed the first leg and are set to miss the second.

Their absences affected the team, especially with the poor performance of substitute players who failed to fill the void left by the absence of these key players.

Coach Anis Boussaidi, who was appointed earlier this week following the resignation of coach Nabil Maaloul, who stepped down from his post after the heavy defeat in the first leg, will be dreaming of a miracle in Cairo as he believes that nothing is impossible in football.    

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

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