- Al Ahly host Wydad in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final
- The Egyptian club will be looking to their prolific attack
- Wydad’s strength lies in a solid defence
After a long journey that has taken in the length and breadth of Africa, the 2017 CAF Champions League is about to reach its conclusion, with two teams from the north of the continent set to fight it out for the trophy. Lining up on one side is Al Ahly of Egypt, the most successful team in the competition’s history, with Wydad Casablanca, one of Morocco’s oldest clubs, facing them on the other.
Both sides were made to work for their place to the final, especially Wydad, who played out a goalless draw with USM Alger in the first leg of their semi-final before recording a hard-earned 3-1 win in the second. For their part, Al Ahly overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Etoile Sportive du Sahel with an emphatic 6-2 victory in the return.
Al Ahly-Wydad Casablanca
Borg el Arab Stadium, Alexandria, 28 October, 19:00 local time
Wydad have scored just the one win on the road in the competition so far, at Coton Sport. Their five other away matches yielded that solitary draw at USM Alger and four defeats, including a 2-0 reverse away to Al Ahly in the group phase. The Moroccans will need to turn that shaky form around if they are to come away from Egypt with a result that keeps their trophy hopes intact.
Al Ahly have registered four wins and two draws in six matches in front of their fans. Their frontline has been in fine form of late, scoring twice away to Esperance de Tunis in the quarter-finals and once at Etoile Sportive du Sahel in the semis, before putting six past Etoile in the return. The Egyptians will be anxious to keep the goals flowing on Saturday as they bid for yet another African title.
Players to watch
Both finalists have each been indebted to a Moroccan player in their campaigns, with Walid Azaro of Al Ahly and Achraf Bencharki of Wydad both scoring four goals along the way. The duo are now gunning to end the competition as its leading scorer. Azaro boosted his tally with a hat-trick in his side’s second-leg demolition of Etoile in the semis, while Bencharki struck a brace in Wydad’s return against USM Alger.
8 - The number of Champions League titles Al Ahly have won, a tournament record. Their last came in 2013.
Did you know?
- Wydad’s Amine Atouchi will miss the decider after picking up a red card in the second leg of their semi-final against USM.
- Six other Wydad players go into the first leg on yellow cards: Ismail Haddad, Mohamed Ounajem, Abdellatif Noussir, Badr Gaddarine, Abdeladim Khadrouf and Brahim Nekkach.
- Six Al Ahly players are also a yellow card away from missing the return match: Walid Soliman, Moamen Zakaria, Hossam Ashour, Sherif Ekramy, Junior Ajayi and Mohamed Hany.
- Wydad have appeared in two Champions League finals, beating Al Hilal of Sudan in 1992 and losing to Tunisia’s Esperance in 2011.
What they said
“We’re not changing our preparations, our training or our mental conditioning. We’ll do everything we can to ensure the team is at its best in defence and attack. We need to make a confident start to the match, just as we’ve done in every game this season. We have a lot of confidence in the players and we hope to win the trophy for everyone in Morocco.”
Wydad coach Houcine Ammouta
إلي النهائي الافريقي pic.twitter.com/h0fmF3G6PN
— Al Ahly SC (@AlAhly) October 22, 2017