Tuesday Apr 05, 2022. 10:00
Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane admitted his side’s CAF Champions League campaign has been far from smooth after they left it until matchday 6 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The defending champions finished six points behind Group A winners Mamelodi Sundowns in second place, which they secured with a narrow 1-0 victory over Al Hilal in Cairo on Sunday.
The Red Eagles were beaten twice by the Brazilians in the group stages and Mosimane conceded it was another shaky qualification for them.
However, the former Sundowns mentor stressed that the competition is not a sprint, but rather a marathon as the Egyptian giants bid for a record 11th title.
“It’s always like that in the group stages ever since I’m here. It’s never very nice, never very clean or easy,” he said.
“I think you know what happens at the end, how does this movie end. It’s a marathon and it’s not about how fast you start.”
Mosimane claimed his players were nervous in the opening stages given what was at stake and he lauded the Blue Wave for putting up a fight in the final round of group games.
“It was a very difficult game. We have to pay respect to Al Hilal, who gave us a very big fight. They never stopped. I don’t think this was the same Hilal that played in Sudan last week,” he added.
“We were a little bit cautious. Our back-line was very disciplined and that was why [Mohamed] El Shenawy was not busy to be honest.
“You could see we were all a little bit nervous in the first 15 to 20 minutes because it’s a big game and we knew it’s a win at all costs and we were not ourselves.
“But it’s okay, it’s part of the game. After we scored the goal, I think we could have scored two or three more, but we are through.”