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I never expected to meet Ahly in CL: Etoile boss

Omar Zaazou , Friday 29 Sep 2017
Soccer Football - CAF Champions League - Quarter-final - Al Ahli SC vs Etoile Sportive du Sahel - Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt - September 17, 2017 Etoile Sportive du Sahel coach Hubert Velud (Photo: Reuters)

Etoile du Sahel manager Hubert Velud never expected to reach the stage where his side would be clashing with Egyptian league holders Ahly, while asserting that both teams have equal qualification chances ahead of their Champions League semi-final first-leg on Sunday.

Speaking ahead of the Tunisians’ home clash with Ahly in Sousse, the French manager heaped praise on Egyptian striker Amr Marei, whose brace against Ahli Tripoli in the last-eight second-leg took Etoile to the semis.

“We never expected to reach the stage where we would be meeting Egyptian league holders Ahly,” Velud said in the pre-match press conference.

“Both teams have equal chances of winning the tie. All we need is to score early in the game to stun Ahly in the opening stages – which would make our mission easier.”

Speaking of striker Marei, who joined Etoile from Enppi in the close season, Velud said he was surprised by the 25-year-old’s performance and that he did not expect him to make up for the absence of Brazilian forward Diogo Acosta.

“Amr’s performance was a surprise to me. I never expected him to make up for the absence of forward Acosta,” Velud said.

“I will rely on him as a starter against Ahly. He is keen to prove himself against the Cairo side.”

Etoile won the Champions League only once in their history, which curiously came against eight-time Champions League holders Ahly in 2007.

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