The Red Devils revived their semi-final bid when they returned from the Moroccan capital Rabat, with a crucial 1-0 victory over group leaders Wydad Athletic Club. Defender Ramy Rabiaa’s header was all Ahly needed to record their first win at the pool stage, a victory that raised their tally to four points, three shy of Wydad and ZESCO who share the top spot with seven points each.
“We have nothing to do but win this game”, Ahly coach Martin Jol told the media ahead of Friday’s crucial game.
“We want to progress in the CAF Champions League and to do so, the maximum points should be bagged against ZESCO”, he added.
Al Ahly started very slowly in the group stage, losing the reverse fixture in Ndola 3-2 and are yet to bag a win at home, only for the win in Rabat to bring them back in contention.
“One thing I fear before ZESCO game – fatigue”, added Dutchman Jol.
“We play every three days and the players feel exhausted, but they know well the challenge they face and will give their best come Friday”.
Ahly suffered a 1-3 loss to rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian Cup last Monday missing out on a domestic double. The team was blown by injuries to key players like defender Ahmed Hegazy and midfielder Walid Soliman.
However, the Red Devils have enforced their squad with four new recruits, including Tunisia international Ali Maaloul, striker Marwan Mohsen, youngster Karim Walid ‘Nedved’, and Nigerian Junior Ajayi. But the latter will miss Friday’s game as he’s on duty with his country at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Olympic.
“I believe we can give our supporters something to cheer about. The Cup final is history now and all our sights are on the Champions League", concluded Jol.
The penultimate Group A match is set to kickoff at 21:30 local time (19:30 GMT) at the Suez Stadium, with Wydad and ASEC locking horns in Morocco 48-hours later.
12.08.2016 Al Ahly (Egypt) vs Zesco (Zambia)
14.08.2016 Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco) vs ASEC Mimosas (Cote d’Ivoire)
14.08.2016 Zamalek (Egypt) vs Enyimba (Nigeria)