Preview: Ahly face Sundowns in AFL semifinal with Pretoria blues in mind

Mahmoud Elassal , Saturday 28 Oct 2023

Ahly will aim for their first victory at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld Stadium as they face South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns in the semifinal of the African Football League (AFL) on Sunday.

File photo: Ahly s Egyptian defender Mohamed Abdelmonem (R) fights for the ball with Sundowns midfie
File photo: Ahly s Egyptian defender Mohamed Abdelmonem (R) fights for the ball with Sundowns midfielder Themba Zwane (L) . AFP


The Cairo giants have failed to defeat Mamelodi Sundowns in their previous seven encounters in Pretoria, suffering heavy losses in the South African capital, including a 5-0 defeat in 2019 and a 5-2 loss last March.

Ahly advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural AFL with an unconvincing performance, relying on the away goal rule after a 3-3 aggregate draw.

Mamelodi Sundowns secured their place in the highly anticipated continental tournament by defeating Petro Atletico of Angola 2-0 on aggregate.

The Red Devils will be without in-form winger Emam Ashour, who is sidelined with a calf injury, as well as midfielders Amr El-Sulaya, Karim Fouad, Ahmed Abdel-Kader, Akram Tawfik, and defender Mahmoud Metwally, all of whom continue to be sidelined due to injuries.

Despite the absence of key players, Ahly coach Marcel Koller has expressed confidence and readiness for the game.

"I am pleased to be here in South Africa for the second time. I have learned from the previous game, but tomorrow is a new match," said Koller.

Meanwhile, Sundowns will be missing the services of veteran defender Mothobi Mvala, who is serving a two-match ban following his red card in the Petro Atletico clash.

Chile's attacking midfielder Marcelo Allende will also be absent from Sundowns' squad due to an injury sustained during the goalless draw against Petro Atletico in the second leg of the AFL quarterfinals last week.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena believes that a matchup against Ahly is always intriguing, affirming his players' readiness for the game against the African Champions League title holders.

"Ahly has a roster of really talented players. I have watched a bit of their away game in Tanzania where they drew 2-2 against Simba FC," said Mokwena.

"It should be an interesting game, pitting two very good teams against each other. We will do our best to try to win," the South African coach added.

The AFL, introduced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in collaboration with FIFA, features eight teams from across the continent, including TP Mazembe from DR Congo, Esperance from Tunisia, Enyimba from Nigeria, and Wydad from Morocco.

The AFL title holder will be rewarded with a prize of $4 million, the highest in continental club competitions.

Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns have previously faced each other 14 times in the African Champions League, with the Red Devils claiming five victories, suffering four defeats, and drawing in five matches.

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