Ahly, eight-time champions last tasted glory in 2013. Since then, they have had to battle for honours in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup, winning the ultimate in 2014, and reaching the semi-final last year. However, the stakes are high this year after the Cairo giants, who recently high a renowned coach in Martin Jol.
Dutch tactician Jol, who managed the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Ajax and Fulham arrived in Cairo last month as new coach of the Red Devils. His first game in charge was a domestic league win over CAF Confederation Cup debutants Misr El Makasa, before leading the team to Angola.
“It was a very tough trip", Jol told CAFonline.com. "We had to travel for almost 20 hours before the game and that affected our performance in the last 20 minutes. Despite that we were the better side and missed many chances, especially in the first half where we squandered three clear scoring chances".
“What we have to do in Alexandria is to score as early as possible. We have to make life difficult for our visitors and don't give them the chance to score an away goal because this can complicate our mission. We have to work on our mistakes not to repeat that in the return leg", added Jol.
The Dutchman made it clear why he accepted the job at Ahly.
“The sky is the limit. We want to reach the ultimatum in the CAF Champions League. I came here to go with Ahly to the FIFA Clubs World Cup. I know Ahly is the biggest club here and the most successful one in Africa too. I accepted the challenge because I want to win more trophies for the club", added the coach who spent almost six seasons in the English Premier League.
Ahly are going to miss their first choice goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy and versatile midfielder Hossam Ashour through injuries, while veteran striker Emad Metaeb is also doubtful. But the 60 years old tactician is unperturbed.
“We have a number of talented and skilled players. The problem is that we miss a lot of scoring chances. I'll work on that with the players and hopefully we will solve this problem in time. It's our game to lose", concluded Jol.
The game is scheduled to kick-off at 18:00 local time, with the aggregate winner facing either Tanzania's Young Africans or Rwanda's APR at the 1/8th round.