African Champions League semi-finals return matches conclude Tuesday with Premeiro de Agosto traveling to Esperance de Tunis and ES Setif hosting Al Ahly.
Record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt carry a healthy 2-0 first leg win into the encounter as they seek to reach the two legged finals for the second time on the bounce and 12th overall against the Tunisians.
Waleed Suleiman and Islam Mohareb were on the mark in Cairo three weeks ago for the victory which puts Ahly in a commanding lead ahead of the rematch.
The deadly duo will be among players to watch in the match.
The Red Devils have been solid and have gone seven matches unbeaten in the championship since Frenchman Patrice Carteron replaced Hosam El Badry in June 2018.
Their record stands at six wins and a draw. Ahly’s last defeat came against KCCA of Uganda at the group stage which led to the sacking of El Badry.
Carteron, who won the title with DRC side TP Mazembe in 2015 attributes the good run to Malian defender Salif Coulibaly, who has stabilized the Cairo giants.
“Salif is not just a good defender, he’s also a good leader,” Carteron said of the lanky defender who has a knack for scoring headers.
The 48-year-old has reiterated that Ahly will stick to their attacking football and will go for an outright win to finish the business.
“We are playing to win, we are always doing that. Whatever the circumstances and whoever the opponent, our target is always victory in every game.
We have to reach the finals from Setif, and we will do whatever it takes to reach this target.”
Carteron welcomes the return of defender Saad Samir and midfielders Amr Elsoleya and Mohamed “Mido” Gaber who were cleared fit after sometime out with injuries.
Primeiro de Agosto are chancing to become the first Angolan side to grace the finals of the Africa’s premium club championship when they face two-time winners Eperance de Tunis in Tunis.
The army-backed side carry a slim 1-0 advantage into the tie and will be hoping to avoid defeat to achieve the unprecedented feat.
To reach thus far, de Agosto edged out five-time champions TP Mazembe with their goalkeeper Adao Cabaca saving two penalties in the quarter-finals second leg in Lubumbashi.
Mazembe also saw their two goals disallowed as de Agosto’s luck in the tournament continued.
Cabaca will be called upon to be at his top best as Esperance will be out guns blazing to overcome the 1-0 deficit.
De Agosto manager Zoran Manojlovic is calling for fair officiating from Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe, who over the weekend was under scrutiny over his handling of a domestic cup match between Power Dynamos and Nkana FC.
“The first leg referee was terrible and hurt us a lot,” Zoran said.
“We do not fear Esperance in Tunisia only other factors like match officiating,” the Serb added.
Esperance fired coach Ben Yahia after a domestic loss following the loss in Angola and elevated his assistant, Moin Chabani, into one of the hottest seats in African football.
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