Ahly, Raja set for Cairo showdown

Ahly, Raja set for Cairo showdown
Ali Maaloul of Al Ahly celebrates goal with teammates during the Egyptian Premier League 2022/2023 match between Al Ahly and Pharco at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on 14 April 2023 ©Weam Mostafa/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Friday Apr 21, 2023. 17:00

Al Ahly and Raja Casablanca will have a CAF Champions League quarterfinal, first leg showdown at the Cairo International Stadium on Saturday 22 April 2023. Kick-off is at 21:00 CAT.

Ahly only narrowly squeezed into the quarterfinals on head-to-head record: they finished level with Sudan’s Al Hilal on 10 points (four adrift of Group B winners Mamelodi Sundowns), but in results between the teams, Hilal’s 1-0 home win was eclipsed by Ahly’s 3-0 triumph in Cairo on the final day of group stage action.

By contrast, Raja finished unbeaten atop Group C (which also featured Simba SC, Horoya AC and Vipers SC) with the most points (16), goals (17) and best goal difference (+14) of any team in the group stage this season.

Ahly head into the clash in great form, having racked up five straight wins across all competitions – including a triumph over Pyramids FC earlier this month to win the Egyptian FA Cup for the 38th time.

“I thank Al Ahly fans for their constant support in the recent games,” said coach Marcel Koller, with the Red Devils boosted by the news that 52,000 fans will be allowed into the Cairo International Stadium for this weekend’s clash.

“The absence of the fans helps me as when I shout at the players, they hear me, but despite that, I enjoy the atmosphere in their presence as football is played for the fans.

Morocco’s Raja have had mixed results of late, including a run of four winless matches in their domestic league, but coach Mondher Kebaier is optimistic of claiming a good result away from home – even as they try to bear the load of an injury crisis.

“Despite the difficulties, we continue to prepare for the game against Al Ahly. We are focused on this first leg. There are still two big goals for the team to achieve this season. We have our chances and we are going to fight to achieve our objectives,” said the Tunisian tactician.

In head-to-head stats, Ahly and Raja have met in nine matches in CAFCL and CAF Super Cup competitions. The Green Eagles have claimed two outright wins, as have the Red Devils (who also have one triumph via penalties), while five games have been drawn.

The teams last met in the quarterfinals of last year’s Champions League, with Ahly winning 3-2 on aggregate across the two legs.

The return leg match will be held at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Saturday 29 April. The aggregate winners will face either JS Kabylie (Algeria) or Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia) in the semifinals.

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