The Red Devils suffered a lone goal defeat Etoile du Sahel on their last visit to Tunisia, and are aiming for a positive return when they face two time African champions Esperance this Saturday at the Olympic Stadium in Rades, near Tunis.
Ahly are currently second in Group B with seven points, two less than leaders Etoile. Stade Malien of Mali and Esperance follow with four and three points respectively.
Holders Ahly emerged victorious when both sides met in the reverse fixture last June in Suez. Abdullah El Said’s brace and a late strike from Moamen Zakaria gave the Cairo giants a soothing 3-0 win over then troubled Esperance side.
“Saturday’s game is totally different”, Ahly head coach Fathy Mabrouk told Cafonline.com moments before the team’s departure for the Tunisian capital on Wednesday.
“Esperance will have a huge crowd backing them at home. They revived their qualification hopes by beating Stade Malien away in the last match. I studied them well and watched their Tunisian Cup game. I believe their new recruits added much to their strength, but we are playing to win and seal our semi-final spot”, concluded the veteran interim coach.
Returning midfielder Ahmed Fathy will miss the game after sustaining a thigh injury against Shorta, and new signing Saleh Gomaa is also out with a knee problem. This leaves Ahly with two new recruits, Ghanaian striker John Antwi and Gabonese import Malick Evouna.
But Mabrouk has high hopes with the availability of the Man-of-the-Match in the previous fixture between the two sides, El Said, who has scored thrice in the last two games.
“I’m doing my best for the team, and hopefully we will carry on the last games form”, El Said told Cafonline.com.
“Esperance is a well-known team all over the continent, and it’s always difficult to play them at their grounds. We know them well and we will do our best to come back with the maximum points.
“At Ahly we always play to win. Though a draw might be enough to guarantee our qualification, we are going to play to win. I believe we can do that”, concluded the 30-year old playmaker.
Stade Malien will host Etoile in the other Group B match on Sunday at the Modibo Keita Stadium in Bamako.
22.08.2015 19H00 Esperance (Tunisia) vs Al Ahly (Egypt)
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23.08.2015 19H30 CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) vs Zamalek (Egypt)