2 November 2017

Africa: D-Day Beckons for Ahly, Wydad

It's D-day for the continent's premier club competition as the Total CAF Champions League 2017 reaches its climax on Saturday with Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco battling Egyptian giants, Al Ahly for the Holy Grail of African club football.

The over 60,000 capacity Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca will be the venue for the second leg final. Both sides settled for a one-all draw last weekend in Alexandria, leaving all to play for in the decisive return leg.

Seeking to add to their record eight titles, Ahly find themselves in a difficult position as they have to score an away goal to remain on course for an unprecedented ninth CAF Champions League trophy, and their first since 2013. On the other hand, a goalless draw will be enough for Wydad to taste a second triumph, after their first and only glory in the elite continental club championship since 1992.

Ahly took an early lead in Alexandria through Moamen Zakaria after just three minutes, but Achraf Bencharki's header cancelled it 13 minutes later. It was the third meeting between the two clubs this term, after each side won 2-0 at home at the group stage.

Whilst Wydad are playing their third final, winning once and losing the other (in 2011), Ahly will be making their 11th appearance at the final, having tasted defeat twice, 1983 and 2007.

"We are going to apply a totally different approach," Wydad coach Hussein Amoutta told local press after the first leg.

"Of course holding Al Ahly away is a good result, but we have won nothing yet. It's a totally different match now and we have to prepare well as we're facing a team with great history and experience," he added.

Forty-eight year old Ammoutta had previously led FUS Rabat to a continental title, the CAF Confederation Cup in 2010. And he looks poised to add another feat to his career, this time the most prestigious CAF Champions League trophy.

On the other hand, Ahly coach Hossam El Badry who also led the Red Devils to continental glory in 2012 remains upbeat before his side left for Casablanca on Wednesday.

"We have passed this situation many times in the past. We know what the stakes are," El Badry told reporters after Ahly's final training session in Cairo before leaving for Morocco.

"We will give all it takes to win this title, and I'm positive my boys can do it," concluded the 57-year old coach.

Both sides will be without some key players through injury for the decisive match. Wydad's talented winger Mohamed Ounajem strained his thigh during the first leg, whilst Ahly duo of Tunisian left back Ali Maaloul and midfielder Hossam Ashour are also out with groin injuries.

A stake is a cash reward of 2,500,000 US Dollars for the winner and the ticket to represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup in December in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

1965 Oryx Douala (Cameroon)

1966 Stade d'Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire)

1967 Tout Puissant Englebert [TP Mazembe] (DR Congo)

1968 Tout Puissant Englebert [TP Mazembe] (DR Congo)

1969 Ismaily (Egypt)

1970 Asante Kotoko (Ghana)

1971 Canon Yaounde (Cameroon)

1972 Hafia Conakry (Guinea)

1973 AS Vita Club (DR Congo)

1974 CARA Brazzaville (Congo)

1975 Hafia Conakry (Guinea)

1976 Mouloudia Alger (Algeria)

1977 Hafia Conakry (Guinea)

1978 Canon Yaounde (Cameroon)

1979 Union Douala (Cameroon)

1980 Canon Yaounde (Cameroon)

1981 JE Tizi- Ouzou [JS Kabylie] (Algeria)

1982 Al Ahly (Egypt)

1983 Asante Kotoko (Ghana)

1984 Zamalek (Egypt)

1985 FAR Rabat (Morocco)

1986 Zamalek (Egypt)

1987 Al Ahly (Egypt)

1988 Entente Setif (Algeria)

1989 Raja Casablanca (Morocco)

1990 JS Kabylie (Algeria)

1991 Club Africain (Tunisia)

1992 Wydad Casablanca (Morocco)

1993 Zamalek (Egypt)

1994 Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia)

1995 Orlando Pirates (South Africa)

1996 Zamalek (Egypt)

1997 Raja Casablanca (Morocco)

1998 ASEC Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire)

1999 Raja Casablanca (Morocco)

2000 Hearts of Oak (Ghana)

2001 Al Ahly (Egypt)

2002 Zamalek (Egypt)

2003 Enyimba (Nigeria)

2004 Enyimba (Nigeria)

2005 Al Ahly (Egypt)

2006 Al Ahly (Egypt)

2007 Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)

2008 Al Ahly (Egypt)

2009 TP Mazembe (DR Congo)

2010 TP Mazembe (DR Congo)

2011 Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia)

2012 Al Ahly (Egypt)

2013 Al Ahly (Egypt)

2014 ES Setif (Algeria)

2015 TP Mazembe (DR Congo)

2016 Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)

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