23 March 2018

Uganda: Mutebi Motivated By Al Ahly Draw

Kampala — KCCA manager Mike Mutebi says nothing drives them on ahead of the May through November Caf Champions League group stage like the thought of facing Africa's finest.

The Ugandan champions were rewarded for their qualification to the continent's top club competition group stage with encounters against North African giants Al Ahly of Egypt and Tunisian powerhouses Esperance.

Mutebi, who attended the draws in Cairo on Wednesday night, knows it will not be an easy ride but is, nevertheless, relishing the prospects.

Not afraid

"It's very motivating to be in the group led by the biggest club in Africa, Al Ahly," said Mutebi shortly after the draws.

"It motivates us because we are going to play against the big boys on the continent... I think it will motivate us to perform even better."

Did Mutebi expect KCCA, who had Muhammad Shaban's lone header to thank for a 1-0 aggregate victory over St George of Ethiopia last Saturday to advance, to make this stage?

"Yeah," he said, "Because last season when we dropped to the Confederation Cup we came this close.

"I think this time we grew, we know more, and my players are young players; very ambitious. Now our target is to get to the quarterfinals."

Asked by a local reporter in Egypt what players Mutebi thought were dangerous in the Ahly side, the Ugandan coach decided against picking out any individual.

"The whole of Al Ahly team is dangerous. I wouldn't say it's the Ahly of the Muhammed Aboutrika that was very strong, very scary.

"This Ahly does not have very special players but as a team, they are very strong."

Ahly clinched the Egyptian league title this season with six matches to spare.

Yet Ahly are not the only concern in a group that also has former KCCA midfielder Ivan Ntege's Township Rollers of Botswana.

Another North African hotshot, Esperance of Tunisia, are waiting to devour any challenge.

Between Ahly and Esperance are 10 Champions League titles, with the former winning eight of them, the most by any side in Africa.

Ahly also have a Caf Confederation Cup title and are a record six Caf Super Cup winners. They also finished third at a Fifa Club World Cup.

KCCA picked some monumental results against North African opposition last year, beating at home El Masry (Egypt), Fus Rabat (Morocco) and Club Africain (Tunisia).

This was a break from the past when a fixture against North Africans was almost a foregone defeat.

On their last visit to Uganda 12 years ago, Ahly drew goalless with KCCA's local rivals SC Villa before a 6-0 thumping in Cairo.

However, Villa beat them enroute the 1991 Caf Champions' League final appearance. On their part, two-time African champions Esperance annihilated the then KCC in the 1997 Caf Cup, winning 3-1 at Nakivubo and 6-0 in the Tunisian city of Rades.

KCCA FC MATCH DAYS

4-6 May 2018 (away at Rollers)

15-16 May 2018 (home to Al Ahly)

17-18 July 2018 (away to Esperance)

27-29 July 2018 (home to Esperance)

17-19 August 2018 (home to Rollers)

28-29 August 2018 (away to Al Ahly)

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