Preview: Ahly out to avoid last year’s upset against Wydad in Champions League final

Mahmoud Elassal , Saturday 10 Jun 2023

Egypt's Ahly hope to avoid a repeat of last year's upset against Morocco's Wydad in the CAF Champions League final when the two teams meet on Sunday at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca.

Ahmed Tagnaouti, golakeeper of Wydad Athletic, left, makes a save during the CAF Champions League So
Ahmed Tagnaouti, golakeeper of Wydad Athletic, left, makes a save during the CAF Champions League Soccer final soccer mathch between Morocco s Wydad Athletic Club and Egypt s Al Ahly SC, at the Mohammed V stadium, in Casablanca, Morocco, Monday, May 30, 2022. AP


Wydad claimed their third Champions League title last season after beating Ahly 2-0 in a single-game final in Morocco.

However, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have reverted back to the two-legged final starting from this year, with Ahly taking a 2-1 lead over Wydad in the home game in Cairo last week.

The Cairo giants are seeking a record-extending 11th Champions League title after failing to achieve it last season against the same opponents.

Ahly's squad has been boosted by the return of injured players, including veteran goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy, who missed the first leg.

Coach Marcel Koller has shown confidence in his team's ability to win the title in Morocco, despite the large number of fans expected to attend the game.

"Wydad's fans won't affect our performance, but they will only support their team," Koller said ahead of the game.

"Ahly players are well-prepared for the game, and we are happy to play in front of several fans. The players are highly motivated, especially after winning the first leg, so they have the upper hand as Wydad's goal did not change the result." The Swiss coach added.

Do or die mission

Wydad, on the other hand, must make use of home advantage and the large number of fans expected to attend the stadium to overcome the first leg deficit.

Coach Sven Vandenbroeck stressed that his team has no choice but to win to claim a fourth Champions League title.

"The situation is clear for us as we have to win and nothing except winning. The Cup is currently in Ahly's hands but they can lose it," Vandenbroeck said at the pre-game press conference on Saturday.

Wydad will be without midfielder Abdellah Haimoud, who underwent appendectomy surgery in Egypt after the first leg game, while forward Zouhair El Moutaraji is doubtful for the game as he had just recovered from a knock sustained during the first leg.

The two teams have met 12 times, with Ahly emerging victorious five times and Wydad claiming victory three times.

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