Preview: Ahly eye fifth straight Champions League final against TP Mazembe

Ahram Online , Thursday 25 Apr 2024

Egyptian giants Ahly are chasing another African Champions League record as they target a fifth consecutive final appearance when they face TP Mazembe of DR Congo in Cairo on Friday.

Ahly winger Ahmed Abdel-Kader in action against TP Mazembe in the Champions League semi-final first leg in Lubumbashi. Photo: Ahly facebook

The defending champions secured a scoreless draw in Lubumbashi last week and need a victory to etch their name in the history books.

It's their Congolese rivals who hold the current record, having reached the final between 1967 and 1970.

Ahly matched that feat after reaching the finals in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. They became the only team to achieve such a run twice after appearing in finals between 2020 and 2023.

Just 90 minutes separate the 11-time African Champions from another milestone, and with the backing of over 50,000 supporters at their imposing Cairo stadium, the advantage seems to be theirs.

"The fans' support will be crucial. Football is for the fans, and when we play in front of them, it gives us immense motivation. We will rely on their energy to help us win," Ahly coach Marcel Koller said during a pre-game press conference.

The Swiss coach received a boost with the return to full training of international goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy, influential midfielder Emam Ashour, and versatile Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng. However, Koller remains cautious about whether they will be risked in such a critical match.

Ahly have been battling injuries to key players over the past two months, including defender Yasser Ibrahim, midfielder Marwan Attia, and winger Hussein El-Shahat.

TP Mazembe coach Lamine N'Diaye downplayed these absences, acknowledging Ahly's quality while emphasizing his team's ambition.

He said chances are even and his men has a great ambitious of winning the title for the first time since 2015.

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