SuperSport fancy chances against mighty Ahly

AFP, Tuesday 29 Mar 2011

The final episode in a three-part football mini-series between South Africa and Egypt takes place this weekend with SuperSport United and Al-Ahly vying for the lead role.

Super sport

Ahly built a 2-0 first-leg advantage from an African Champions League second round tie in Cairo two weeks ago and several of their stars were in the team that lost an Africa Cup of Nations eliminator in Johannesburg last Saturday.

SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt insists his side can turn the tables at Peter Mokaba Stadium in northern city Polokwane despite the vastly superior pedigree of rivals who have the premier Pan-African club title a record six times.

"They may be favourites but we can send them packing by believing in ourselves. We were the better team in Cairo against ordinary opponents," boasted the coach who has guided United to three consecutive league titles.

"The impression was created before the first leg that Ahly were invincible yet we dominated them in their backyard. We struck the woodwork twice and wasted several opportunities to grab a precious away goal."

Goals from strikers Osama Hosny and Mauritanian Dominique da Silva won a first leg in which Ahly were far below their best owing to a two-month competitive lay-off because of the popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

That match and the Cup of Nations qualifier can only sharpen Ahly stars like defenders Wael Gomaa and Ahmed Fathi, midfielders Hossam Ghaly and icon Mohamed Aboutreika and striker Mohamed 'Geddo' Nagy.

SuperSport central defender Morgan Gould won the man-of-the-match award after helping South Africa defeat defending champions Egypt 1-0 and will need to be at his best as Ahly seek the away goal that would surely clinch the tie.

Zamalek, the great Cairo rivals of Ahly and the other Egyptian challengers this year for a 1.5-million-dollar first prize, must overcome a 4-2 deficit when they host Club Africain of Tunisia in a clash of former champions.

The first-leg goal fest was partly due to the rustiness of the adversaries with the overthrow of authoritarian ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia leaving clubs there without competitive action for several months.

Defending champions TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo have created history by becoming the only club to twice successfully defend the title and now they have their sights on a record third title in a row.

Patou Kabangu, Cameroonian Narcisse Ekanga and Dioko Kaluyituka scored in a 3-1 victory over Tanzanian visitors Simba, whose Ugandan striker Emmanuel Okwi snatched a late goal to keep the tie alive.

A couple of former champions are in trouble with 1976 winners Mouloudia Alger of Algeria trailing Dynamos of Zimbabwe 4-1 after a poor showing in Harare that was partly salvaged by a late Reda Babouche penalty.

"I am gutted because we came to Zimbabwe full of hope for a good result. What happened has left us with a really tough task," admitted ex-West Ham striker Youssef Sofiane.

Vita of DR Congo conquered Africa in 1974 and it does not look like they are going to repeat that feat this year after slumping 1-0 in Kinshasa to 2008 runners-up Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon.

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