Al Ahly SC clash with Esperance de Tunis in the Caf Champions League final first leg laced with so much history at Borg El Arab Stadium – Alexandria, Egypt Friday.
Egyptian authorities, who greatly control the number of fans since the unfortunate Port Said massacre a few years back, allowed sale of only 60,000 tickets for the much hyped clash of titans at the 86,000 seater facility.
To get hold of the precious ticket after online sales was overwhelmed and the system crashed, some fans had to spend a cold night on the streets of Alexandria ahead of open sale Thursday.
Still they had to endure long queues and only the lucky ones finally got the priceless gate pass to the biggest game of the day in Africa.
The match will see introduction of the VAR technology as CAF pulls all stops to ensure a fair final for all.
Record eight-time champions Al Ahly will be trying to savor the elusive ninth glory for the second successive time after failing at the same stage last season against Wydad Casablanca.
The Red Devils have been on the road to nine since 2013 when they last kissed and raised the Holy Grail of Africa’s club football and they believe the end of the long could start tonight with experienced French coach Patrice Carteron as they grace their 12th final.
Patrice on the other side will be chasing his own personal history.
The 48-year-old who won the continental glory with TP Mazembe three years back will be gunning to join a group of prestigious coaches who have won the gong twice with two different clubs.
“It has been my target since I joined Al Ahly last June,” Carteron, who has only tasted one defeat and conceded only once in seven matches in the championship said.
Esperance de Tunis have waited even longer than Ahly to enjoy the bragging rights of being on top of Africa.
The last time the Gold and Blood graced the podium was way back in 2011 – seventeen years after their maiden glory in the continent.
They return to the final for the seventh time hoping to add a third star on their jerseys.
The team is at full strength with no major injury worries and are bubbling to pick an away advantage ahead of the re-match on 9 November in Tunis.
Their London-born defender Ayman Ben Mohamed holds that the game is going to be tight.
“It’s going to be tight. It’s a final. We’re both of a similar caliber – we’re both in the finals for a reason.
“It’s going to be a game based on fine margins – there’s going to be not much between the two teams I imagine,” Ayman said.
Head to head record
1990 CAF Champions League – 1/8th finals
Tunis Esperance 0-0 Ahly
Cairo Ahly 0-0* Esperance
*Esperance won 4-2 on penalty shootout
2001 CAF Champions League – Semifinal
04.11.2001 Cairo Ahly 0-0 Esperance
17.11.2001 Tunis Esperance 1-1 Ahly (Edilton Perreira 2’/ Sayed Abdel Hafeez 83′)
2007 CAF Champions League – Group stage
20.07.2007 Cairo Ahly 3-0 Esperance (Mohamed Abu Treika 12′, Flavio Amado 77′, Ossama Hosny 85′)
04.08.2007 Rades Esperance 1-0 Ahly (Salama Kasdaoui 38′)
2010 CAF Champions League – Semifinal
03.10.2010 Cairo Ahly 2-1 Esperance (Mohamed Fadl 38′, Ahmed Fathy 68′ / Oussama Darragi 72′)
17.10.2010 Rades Esperance 1-0 Ahly (Michael Eneramo 1′)
2011 CAF Champions League – Group stage
30.07.2011 Rades Esperance 1-0 Ahly (Yannick N’Djeng 14′)
16.09.2011 Cairo Ahly 1-1 Esperance (Mohamed Abu Treika 54′ / Yaya Banana 17′)
2012 CAF Champions League – Final
04.11.2012 Alexandria Ahly 1-1 Esperance (Elsayed Hamdy 88′ / Walid Hichri 49′)
17.11.2012 Rades Esperance 1-2 Ahly (Yannick N’Djeng 85′ / Mohamed Nagy “Geddo” 43′, Waleed Suleiman 63′)
2015 CAF Confederation Cup – Group stage
28.06.2015 Suez Ahly 3-0 Esperance (Abdullah Elsaid 20′, Abdullah Elsaid 58′, Moamen Zakaria 90′)
22.08.2015 Rades Esperance 0-1 Ahly (John Antwi 5′)
2017 CAF Champions League – Quarterfinal
16.09.2017 Alexandria Ahly 2-2 Esperance (Abdullah Elsaid 11′, Walid Azaro 67′ / Taha Yassine Khenissi 21′, Ghilane Chaalali 48′)
23.09.2017 Rades Esperance 1-2 Ahly (Taha Yassine Khenissi 40′ / Ali Maaloul 50′, Junior Ajayi 62′)
2018 CAF Champions League – Group stage
04.05.2018 Alexandria Ahly 0-0 Esperance
17.08.2018 Rades Esperance 0-1 Ahly (Walid Azaro 32′)
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