Egypt's Al Ahly or Tunisia's Etoile Sahel will be crowned African champions on Saturday and become the final representative of December's FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005.

After a goalless draw two weeks ago in Sousse, the winners of the second leg of this year's African Champions League final in Cairo is not only assured of the prestigious trophy, but also a trip to test their mettle against the world's top club sides.

And with the draw for Japan 2005 having already been made, Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad and perhaps Brazil's Sao Paulo, the winners' quarter-final and potential semi-final opponents in Japan, will be just as interested in the outcome as the millions of football fans up and down the African continent.

A mouthwatering prospect, but the first task is to decide the Champions League title between two clubs that gave little away in a tightly contested first leg which produced not a single shot on target.

Heavy favourites, Al Ahly dominated possession, but were also cautious in their primary desire to make sure they made no mistakes in defence. In the end, they went home with their long-standing unbeaten run extended to 50 matches.

Runners-up last year, Etoile, however, seemed equally defensive, intent on not conceding an away goal to their Egyptian rivals.

Counter-punching
Ahly's coach Manuel Jose was uncharacteristically critical of the tactics employed by his counterpart Mehmed Bazdarevic, but mixed in with the Portuguese's post-match comments was a warning that Etoile Sahel should not be discounted in the second leg. 

Most observers are expecting all-out attack from the Red Devils of Cairo. If the blisteringly quick Mohamed Barakat and Gilberto can provide normal service down the wings, and Hassan Mostafa's craft bring a plentiful supply through the middle, then strikers Emad Motaeb and Mohamed Aboutrika might feel like guests at a typically excessive Cairo-style wedding feast.

But Jose is wary of the Tunisian's counter-attacking prowess through the likes of Cape Verde teenager Gilson and Nigerian Emeka Opara, and the impact an away goal would make on supporters convinced of their team's infallibility.
 
"They are very dangerous, very dangerous," said Jose, sounding like a schoolmaster seeking to press home a precious point in front of the board. "This counter attack is one of their strong points and we have to be fully aware."

Having sketched the likely match scenario, Jose was quick to dismiss any talk of pressure and emphasised his side's desire to make it big in Japan: "Win? Yes of course, we will win."

Etoile have kept their countenance over the past ten days, even resting players for a what is usually a key league match against Club Africain, a game they ended up losing.

The 45-year-old Bazdarevic has his own website but it is inactive this week, mentioning just the first leg score. If Etoile do pull off a minor miracle in Cairo though, the Bosnian may never be able to close it down again.