Ahly coach Koller worried over choice of retiring Ethiopian referee for Champions League final

Mahmoud Elassal , Monday 5 Jun 2023

Ahly’s Swiss coach Marcel Koller has expressed concern over the appointment of retiring Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema for the second leg of the Champions League final between Morocco’s Wydad and Egypt’s Ahly.

Bamlak Tessema
Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa gestures during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi final football match between Burkina Faso and Senegal at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. AFP


The match will take place on 11 June at the Stade Mohammed V in Morocco, following the first leg that ended with a 2-1 win for Ahly at the Cairo International Stadium on Sunday.

"Naming Bamlak Tessema to officiate the second leg game against Wydad is an annoying and very worrying matter as it will be his last game and he will retire after that," Koller said, voicing his worries during the post-game press conference.

"The referee will not have any commitments or responsibilities after the coming [finale] game."

However, Koller expressed hope, saying: "we hope he will surprise us with a fair judgment."

Tessema, 43, has officiated 38 games in the CAF Champions League since his debut in the 2012/13 season.

These include two Champions League finals in his career, with Ahly ending up on the losing side on both occasions.

Controversial first leg decisions

The first leg game saw several controversial refereeing decisions that Koller claimed had a significant impact on the game.

The VAR intervened to overturn a penalty decision for Ahly, while a penalty claim for the Red Devils was turned down, and an appeal for a red card for denying a clear chance was also rejected.

Referee Motaz Ibrahim faced a massive protest from Ahly players when the last defender, Yahia Attiat Allah, deliberately handled the ball to prevent Percy Tau and Hussein El Shahat from advancing toward the goal while the result was still 2-0. However, the Libyan referee only issued a yellow card.

Koller admitted that he was upset by the result despite still securing a victory.

Ahly will have more options to win this year’s Champions League title at the Mohamed V stadium as finishing the game in a draw or achieving a positive result will ease their mission.

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