Wydad, Al Ahly 90 minutes from glory
CAF Champions League final finely balanced after 1-1 draw in first leg in Egypt
A goalless draw would be enough for Wydad, while Al Ahly have to score
Winners will represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017
By the end of Saturday evening, we will know which club will be representing Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 in December, with Al Ahly and Wydad Casablanca all set to fight it out for that prize in the second leg of the CAF Champions League.
In an entertaining first leg, Momen Zakaria opened the scoring for the Egyptian club before Achraf Bencharki equalised for Wydad to leave the final perfectly poised.
The match *Wydad Casablanca-Al Ahly Stade Mohammed V, 4 November, 20:00 (local time)*
After recovering from the blow of conceding an early goal, Houcine Ammouta’s charges defended stoutly in the first leg, while Mohamed Ounajem and Achraf Bencharki worked their magic up front to allow Wydad to head back to Casablanca with a positive result.
The question is, what strategy will the Moroccan outfit adopt for the return? A goalless draw would be enough for them to clinch the title. Should Ammouta adopt a defensive gameplan, however, it would hand the initiative to their Egyptian opponents. Given that attack is the best form of defence, it would be no surprise to see Bencharki and Co push forward in numbers, an approach they took in knocking out USM Alger in the semis following another first-leg stalemate.
Al Ahly have a good away record in the competition, however. Held 2-2 at home in the first leg of their last-eight tie against Esperance, they went to Tunisia and won 2-1, a scoreline they would be only too happy to repeat on Saturday.
Player to watch Most of the attention in the first leg was focused on the all-Moroccan duel between Walid Azaro and Bencharki, with the latter proving his worth again by finding the back of the net. The scorer of four goals in the competition so far, Azaro will be anxious to upstage his compatriot in the return and win the title for his club. With five to his name already, Bencharki will be equally as keen to claim the limelight.
The stat 2 - the number of times Al Ahly have been held to a draw at home in the first leg of a CAF Champions League final before going on to hoist the trophy aloft in the second leg. In 2006, the Egyptians drew 1-1 with Sfax before winning 1-0 in Tunisia. Then, in 2012, Mohamed Aboutrika and Co secured the continental crown with a 2-1 win away to Esperance in Tunis, with the first leg having ended 1-1.
Did you know?
Injured in the first leg, Ounajem will be missing from the Wydad front line, leaving strike partner Bencharki to look elsewhere for service.
Al Ahly are looking for their ninth continental title, having already won it a record eight times (1982, 1987, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2013). Wydad have lifted the CAF Champions League trophy just once, in 1992.
The soon-to-be crowned African champions will face Pachuca of Mexico in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 on 9 December.** **
What they said “I’ve said right from the start that the final would not be decided in the first leg. There’s still one game to go in Morocco and we have to focus on that. We didn’t have any luck in the first match and I hope we’re going to get some in the return. I’m convinced we’re going to create chances because our opponents are going to leave space for us. Our hopes are still intact.” Al Ahly coach Hossam Al Badry