African Champions League final: South African Chiefs face Egyptian ogre Al-Ahly

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The South African team of Kaizer Chiefs play, Saturday, in Morocco, the first final in its history against the Egyptian club Al-Ahly, title holder and nine times winner of the continental competition. A major challenge for the South Africans, who have never beaten this formidable Egyptian formation.

At the Mohammed-V stadium in Casablanca, the giant of Cairo, big favorite, openly dreams of establishing, Saturday, July 17, his overwhelming domination over African football by winning his tenth title in the African Champions League. Al-Ahly won his ninth title last year, in an Egyptian derby-like final against rival Zamalek.

For Al-Ahly’s trainer, Pitso Mosimane, the poster for the 2021 final is heartbreaking. And for good reason: he is South African and the Kaizer Chiefs are the heart club of his childhood.

“It’s a bit of a conscience for me to face the Chiefs,” he admitted. “I am a South African who is preparing the rout of my compatriots,” said the former coach of Bafana Bafana.

But “Al-Ahly does not do humanitarian work, distributing stars. We want to win,” he added, before this final refereed by the Burundian Pacific Ndabihawenimana.

Mosimane can rely on a team of stars from the continent: the Egyptian goalkeeper and captain Mohamed el-Shenawy, the Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul or the Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng and Egyptian Mohamed Magdy alias Afsha.

Egyptian striker Mohamed Sherif will be responsible for leading a certain offensive power, with 23 goals scored for 6 conceded in 12 games (8 wins, 3 draws, 1 defeat).

The Chiefs’ long famine

The Chiefs, surprise guests arrived until the final by defeating the forecasts, are a team “mysterious” and “difficult to analyze”, assured Pitso Mosimane.

The club of Soweto, however one of the great historical teams of the continent, only once faced Al-Ahly, in 2002, for a defeat to 4-1 in Cairo.

Current Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane suffered that loss as a player at the time. “We have not won anything since 2015 (title of champion of South Africa, editor’s note) and it is time to put an end to this unacceptable statistic,” he said.

The Chiefs will try to muzzle the Egyptians with their efficient defense, which has kept their clean sheet 11 times out of 14 games in the competition.

South African international center-back Eric Mathoho will be crucial in helping them in their endeavor, especially as they have only scored 12 goals, less than one per game.

Their squad also includes the experienced and combative Zimbabwean midfielder Willard Katsande and the promising South African midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, as well as the Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic.

With AFP

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