Koller: Raja will be a tougher nut to crack in Casablanca

Koller: Raja will be a tougher nut to crack in Casablanca
Ahly's coach Marcel Koller reacts during the CAF Champions League quarter-finals, 1st leg soccer match between between Al Ahly vs Raja Casablanca in Cairo, Egypt, 22 April 2023. EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

by Staff Reporter

Monday Apr 24, 2023. 12:57

Al Ahly head coach Marcel Koller expects Raja Casablanca to pose a sterner challenge in the second leg of their CAF Champions League quarter-final tie at the Mohammed V Stadium on April 29.

The Red Eagles are in the driver’s seat ahead of the trip to Casablanca after goals from Mohamed Abdelmonem (45+2′) and Hamdi Fathi (84′) secured a 2-0 win in the first leg at the Cairo International Stadium on Saturday.

Raja made the better start in Cairo and threatened to break the deadlock on a couple of occasions in the first half before Abdelmonem’s opener on the stroke of half-time swung the momentum in the hosts’ favour.

Koller was pleased to see his players dominate proceedings in the second half but has warned them against complacency as the Green Eagles will be a different prospect in front of their home fans.

Mondher Kebaier’s side conceded just once at home in the group stages and scored an impressive 10 goals in the process to emerge as one of the favourites to lift the coveted trophy this season.

“The match was tough. Raja started the game better and we struggled to get into the game. The team gradually improved until we were able to fully control the game, create chances, and then we scored and came out of the first half leading by one goal,” he said.

“In the second half, we were better and missed more chances, we could have scored more. Overall, I am happy to have scored two goals and kept a clean sheet.

“We know the difficulty of the return-leg match. The task is not over yet and we face a big challenge. Today’s result gives us an advantage, but things will be tough in Morocco and we should not take the task lightly. For me, I will play as if we are tied 0-0.”

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