The Egyptian football poles, Al-Ahly and Zamalek, face the danger of early exclusion from the African Champions League competition, as the first faces its host, Coton Sport, Cameroon, and the second comes to the Algerian youth sports club, Belouizdad, in the fifth round of the group stage.
On the other hand, the defending champion, Moroccan Athletic Wydad, is looking forward to continuing its victories and achieving its qualification to the quarter-finals, and thus catching up with its rivals, Raja, who reserved the first seat in the quarter-finals.
Al-Ahly, the runner-up of the previous edition and the record holder with the number of titles (10 titles), does not have his fate in his hands, as he moves to the Cameroonian city of Garoua to face its host, Cotton Sport, on Friday, in the second group competitions, where he needs to win and nothing but him, in addition to his supplication that the result of the second match in the group be poured. Between Al-Hilal of Sudan and its guest, Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa, in his interest.
Sundowns secured early qualification by topping the group with ten points, following its crushing victory over Al-Ahly 5-2. Al-Hilal came second with nine points, the Egyptian Genie third with four points, and Cotton Sport without points.
Al-Hilal is waiting for Al-Ahly to stumble, before meeting the Sudanese champion in a decisive match in the last round, while Al-Hilal is sufficient to win any result over the South African champion to ensure passage to the quarter-finals.
Al-Ahly Swiss coach Marcel Koller, whose position became threatened after the humiliating loss, regained the services of his player, Mohamed Abdel Moneim, and the Swiss called on the team’s players to show determination, persistence, and not give up.
And he stressed that Al-Ahly must play to win in Cameroon, stressing during a session with his players that Al-Ahly is a great team and must continue to perform with determination, persistence and enthusiasm, even if he is subjected to harsh results, similar to his last meeting with Sundowns.
The assistant coach of the home team, Ernest Agbor, said, “Our motives will be greater, and we will play to improve the club’s image, and we will do everything in our power, and we will play a serious match against Al-Ahly, we have no absences, and we will play the match with a full team.”
Al-Hilal hopes to benefit from the ground workers and the public to ensure its qualification by beating its guest, Mamelodi, at the “Blue Jewel” stadium in Omdurman, on Saturday.
The South African team, seeking its second title after 2016, revealed that a large number of its players are threatened with absence due to injury, and coach Rolani Mokoena stated that his team is playing to win, “because he wants to continue his record of consecutive matches without defeat, and his calculations are all related to achieving victory in all confrontations.”
As for Al-Hilal coach Florent Ibenge from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said: I expect that the Sundowns coach will tell his players that you must win in all matches, and we will also play to win.
Zamalek will go through a difficult journey to the Algerian capital to face its host, Shabab Belouizdad, at the “5 July” stadium, on Friday, in the fourth “Arab” group, while the Tunisian Esperance will meet with the Sudanese Mars.
Esperance leads the group (9 points) against Belouizdad (6 points), while Zamalek came third (4 points) and Merreikh fourth (4 points).
The ′′ White Castle ′′ team needs to win its next two matches against Belouzdad youth and then against Mars to ensure that it officially qualifies for the eight rounds, while it will find itself outside the championship in case of loss.
Veteran striker Mahmoud Abdel Razek “Shikabala” and Mohamed Abdel Shafi are absent from the squad of Portuguese coach Gisualdo Ferreira.
Zamalek prepared for the meeting with a loss against Enppi in the league, and the fate of the Portuguese coach was at stake, and therefore the match may be decisive for Ferreira’s future.
The Algerian team is looking forward to repeating its victory over its Egyptian opponent, after it was knocked down in the first round, with a clean goal.
Al-Taraji hopes to return from the “Benina Martyrs” stadium in the Libyan city of Benghazi, with a qualifying point, when it arrives at the Sudanese Mars on Friday.
After three consecutive victories, the “Bab Souika” team suffered a first loss against Zamalek 1-3 in the last round.
Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul realizes that the meeting will be difficult, as he will play on artificial turf and in front of a team that does not seem easy and is full of good players, especially Brazilians Alex da Silva, Paolo Sergio and coach Heron Ricardo.