Preview: Ahly out to lift Egyptian gloom after humiliating loss in Ghana

Hatem Maher, Saturday 19 Oct 2013

Ahly will be favourites to qualify for the African Champions League final when they host Cameroon's Coton Sport in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna on Sunday

A screenshot from Ahly's 1-1 draw at Cameroon's Coton Sport in the first leg of the African Champions League semi-final

Title holders Ahly will be looking to restore some Egyptian pride when they host Coton Sport in the Champions League on Sunday, with the gloom of Egypt's humiliating 6-1 defeat by Ghana still hanging over the football-mad country.

The Pharaohs' hope of ending a 24-year wait for a World Cup appearance has all but ended after they were hammered in Kumasi in the first leg of the qualifying playoff, shattering the dream of the likes of Wael Gomaa and Mohamed Abou-Treika to experience World Cup football before they retire.

Classy playmaker Abou-Treika said he would hang up his boots at the end of the year while his Ahly teammate Gomaa admitted to the difficulty of carrying on his international career following one of Egypt's worst-ever defeats.

Both will lead an Ahly side who are favourites to reach a second consecutive Champions League final, having held Cameroon's Coton Sport to a 1-1 draw in Garoua in the first leg of the competition's semi-final earlier this month.

"It's important that we only focus on our match against Coton now. We have to close the Egypt chapter for a while so that we can concentrate on that tough match," Abou-Treika said on Ahly's official website.

"Any talks about the possibility of Egypt overturning the deficit against Ghana must be delayed until after the Champions League match."

The Red Devils will once again have to do without their supporters as they will serve the second of a two-match crowd ban imposed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the fan troubles that preceded their group-stage game against Congo's AC Leopards.

Sunday's match will be played at 14:30 Cairo local time (12:30 GMT) in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna due to security concerns in the capital.

"I'm sure Ahly's players have the sufficient experience to get over the defeat against Ghana and focus on the Coton clash," the club's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz said.

Goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy and defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour were both substituted against Ghana after picking up injuries.

Ahly said Ekrami would be ready to play against Coton but Ashour would be rested "to avoid aggravating his injury".

The Cairo giants are eyeing a record-extending eighth Champions League crown. They will face Orlando Pirates in the final if they overcome Coton Sport after the South African side beat  Tunisia's Esperance on the away goal rule following a 1-1 aggregate draw.

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