AS Vita Club's Ngonda Muzinga (R)
Thursday Jan 10, 2019. 12:15
AS Vita will look to open their Group D campaign in the 2018/19 CAF Champions League with an upset win away to Al Ahly at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Saturday, 12 January, kick-off at 21h00 CAT
This match pits together two powerhouses of African football: Ahly have won a record eight Champions League titles (and have been runners-up in the past two years), while Vita were continental kings back in 1973 and reached the final as recently as 2014. In 2018 they also finished as runners-up in the CAF Confederation Cup.
But more than prestige will be at stake, with both the Red Devils and the Black Dolphins looking to get off to a fast start in a group which also includes Algerian side JS Souara and Tanzanian giants Simba (those teams meet in Dar Es Salaam earlier on Saturday).
The Egyptians earned their place in the group stage with an uncomfortable 2-1 aggregate win over Ethiopia’s Jimma Aba Jifar last month, while the DR Congo heavyweights had a more comfortable time in overcoming Lesotho’s Bantu 5-2 across the two legs of their first round tie.
Ahly have been in some turmoil of late, but the appointment of Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte and the acquisition of talented attackers Ramadan Sobhi and Hussein El Shahat has boosted confidence around the club – so much so that they won their first match under the new boss on Tuesday evening, defeating Smouha 1-0 in a league clash.
Vita have also been busy in the transfer market leading into the New Year, losing key men Eddy Ngoyi and Mukoko Batezadio, though Savio Kabugo has joined from Uganda’s Proline.
Coach Florent Ibenge has turned the Kinshasa-based team into serious contenders for the Champions League title and they will be hoping to prove that with a strong showing in Egypt this weekend.
Tunisian referee Sadok Selmi will take charge of the match in Alexandria.