Ahly eye Group B top spot in Champions League

Hatem Maher, Sunday 28 Aug 2011

To enhance their chances of reaching the CAF Champions League semi finals, Ahly are looking for another win over Mouloudia Alger

Ahly 2-0 Mouloudia
Ahly beat Mouloudia 2-0 at Cairo Stadium earlier in August

Ahly are gunning for another win over Mouloudia Alger on Sunday night to leapfrog Group B’s leading duo Wydad Casablanca and Esperance in the CAF Champions League group stage.

A poor start left Ahly’s chances of booking a semi-final spot hanging by a thread after they were held to a 3-3 home draw by Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca before slumping to a 1-0 loss at Tunisian outfit Esperance.

However, they revived their hopes of going through after claiming an easy 2-0 victory over Mouloudia in Cairo, thanks to a first-half brace from striker Emad Meteb, who is gradually regaining his form after returning to his boyhood club in the January transfer window.

Esperance and Wydad, who have six points each to Ahly’s four, played out a goalless draw in Tunisia on Saturday, giving the Egyptian champions a timely chance to go top in Group B.

Mouloudia, who could only collect one point from their first three matches, are highly unlikely to make it to the semi finals but they will still pose a stern test to Ahly, according to the Red Devils’ coach Manuel Jose.

“The chances of Mouloudia to reach the last-four phase are remote, but our match against them will be difficult,” said the Portuguese tactician, who steered Ahly to four out of their six Champions League triumphs.

“Our opponents will be looking for a morale-boosting win. We are also targeting all three points.

“If we beat Moulodua and Wydad (in Morocco) we will virtually secure our place in the semifinal.”

Jose reinforced Ahly’s squad with several close-season signings, including Brazilian striker Fabio Junior, forward El-Sayed Hamdy, playmaker Walid Soliman and defender Mohamed Naguib.

Junior, who made his competitive debut when he came on as a late substitute in the 2-0 win over Mouloudia, will not be available on Sunday due to injury. Influential duo Hossam Ghaly and Ahmed Fathi are also out due to automatic suspension.

Under-fire defender Ahmed El-Sayed and central midfielder Moataz Eno were also omitted by Jose for technical reasons.

Ahly last won Africa’s premier club competition in 2008. They reached the semi final last year but were eliminated at the hands of Esperance.

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