It has been four years since the club of the century, Al Ahly SC, won the CAF Champions League. After their last win in 2013, the club faced a lot of instability in its search for a coach good enough to keep the team on top and on its feet.
However, in this last year, fans have seen significant progress under Hossam El Badry, and the team even groomed many rising stars who are now playing abroad like Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City) and Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich).
Al Ahly is definitely back in shape, with exceptional players and the winning of the Egyptian Premier League and the Egyptian Cup of 2016/17. For all Ahly fans, no title is unimportant; they believe the team is worthy of all of them, especially since this would be their 9th CAF Champions League title, putting them on the throne again.
This is the opportunity where the team can prove that they are the best team in Africa. And as history books show, the team is the all-time winner of the CAF Champions League.
Therefore, it is vital that the team win today’s match against ES Tunis, since this team stands to be Al Ahly’s number one rival in Africa. These two teams have been battling for the title of the best African team for the past five years. Some even say that this is an early final, since both teams are considered the top two contenders in Africa and are the favorites for this year’s title. Moreover, it has long been the dream of all Ahly fans and players to reach the FIFA Club World Cup.
The team had played the first leg poorly here in their home stadium. The match had ended here with a 2-2 tie, which means that one way for the team to qualify is to win with a one-goal advantage. This is an almost impossible task, especially playing in Radès, as Tunisian players are known for their poor athletic spirit.
How is it possible for the team to win? It might be an option for the team to start on the defensive; to try not to concede a goal for the first 60 minutes -as what was evident last time was that the rival team did not have a strong endurance. Moreover, what was noticed during the last match was that it was quite easy for Al Ahly to penetrate the defenses of ES Tunis.
Saleh Gomaa is witty and quite fast, so it might be good for the team to start with him instead of Abdallah El Saied. Furthermore, Ahmed El Sheikh and Junior Ajayi could be benched until the ES Tunis team is drained of energy, then used for playing on the offensive since they are both quite fast.
On the other hand, ES Tunis are very good on the offensive, which means that Al Ahly needs fast players and a center midfielder who would be able to control the game. We could maybe see Hesham Mohamed taking on this role for the first 60 minutes at least, next to Hossam Ashour and Amr Al Sulaya.
Moreover, Ahmed Fathy and Aly Maaloul might need to refrain from attacking as they would need to focus on Yassine El Khenissi, who scored in the last match, as well as Fakhredine Ben Youssef, since they are considered two of the best players in Tunisia.
Hossam El Badry needs to think this through, because if he doesn’t win this coming match, he is in for a lot of criticism from fans. If the team loses, there will be millions of disappointed fans.
What the fans know for a fact is that there is nothing impossible for the team to achieve; after all, Al Ahly is the last-minute team. During the last stand-off with ES Tunis back in 2012 during the CAF final in Radès, the team emerged victorious with a 2-1 score, achieving the impossible -and the fans know that they can replicate the impossible again.