Ahly coach plays down tensions ahead of CL final against Esperance

Hatem Maher, Friday 2 Nov 2012

Hossam El-Badry denies criticizing Esperance counterpart Nabil Maaloul ahead of Sunday’s Champions League final first-leg

Hossam Al Badry
Egypt's Ahly coach Hossam Al Badry (Photo: Reuters)

Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry sought to ease tensions over Sunday’s African Champions League final first-leg after vehemently denying criticising Esperance counterpart Nabil Maaloul.

“I fully respect Maaloul and I care about the relationship between Ahly and Esperance,” El-Badry was quoted as saying by local media.

“All the quotes attributed to me about Maaloul are completely false, some people just want to fan tensions.”

Ahly host Tunisia’s Esperance in the first-leg of the Champions League final at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium on Sunday. It will be their third meeting in three years at Africa’s premier club competition.

Esperance had the upper hand on the previous two occasions, knocking Ahly out of the semi-finals in 2010 on the away-goal rule following a 2-2 aggregate draw before eliminating them from the group stage last year.

El-Badry, who was in charge of Ahly in 2010, was incensed after then Esperance striker Michael Eneramo used his hand to score an illegitimate goal in the second-leg that eventually helped the Tunisians reach the final.

He said he was worried over possible refereeing mistakes in Sunday’s final, prompting a furious reaction from Esperance who accused him of playing mind games.

“Everyone talked about the Eneramo incident at the time. My worry over refereeing does not mean that I’m hurling accusations against anybody,” El-Badry added.

“Every team must defend its rights. And our right is to have a fair referee.”

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