Esperance, Al Ahly eye first-leg advantage

Esperance, Al Ahly eye first-leg advantage
Nabil Maaloul, coach of Esperance instructs Ghaylen Chalali of Esperance

by Staff Reporter

Thursday May 11, 2023. 15:16

Esperance de Tunis will go head to head with Al Ahly in a CAF Champions League semi-final first-leg match at the Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi in Tunisia on Friday.

Kick-off is at 9:00 pm CAT.

The Tunisian champions sneaked into this round after defeating Algerian side JS Kabylie 2-1 on aggregate in a quarter-final tie and they are undefeated in their last four games in Africa’s premier club competition.

Esperance, who are four-time African champions, are also undefeated in their last five matches at home in the Champions League having recorded three consecutive victories and two successive draws.

“We dominated the course of the match, except for the last minutes,” Esperance head coach Nabil Maaloul said after the second-leg clash against Kabylie.

“I am proud of the players’ performance in the absence of prominent players… We will fight to win the league, the (domestic) cup, and the Champions League.

“It [Esperance against Al Ahly] will be an interesting and enthusiastic match as usual.”

Meanwhile, Al Ahly booked their spot in the semi-finals after securing a 2-0 win over Morocco’s Raja Casablanca on aggregate in a quarter-final tie and they are unbeaten in their last four games in the Champions League.

Having won a record 10 Champions League titles, the Egyptian football powerhouse are undefeated in their last two away matches in the continental tournament.

“All players are fully prepared for the Esperance match,” Al Ahly assistant coach Samy Komsan said ahead of their first-leg clash with Esperance.

“We appreciate the importance of this match, during which the team seeks to achieve a positive result that will help it in the return match in Cairo.

“And reach the final of the tournament, which is the most important challenge of the next stage for Al-Ahly.”

Moez Ben Cherifia, Hani Amamou, Hamdou Elhouni, Ghaylan Al-Shaalali as well as Riad Benayad are all on Esperance’s injury list while Moataz Al-Zadam is suspended.

Al Ahly, on the other hand, are sweating over the fitness of Hussein Al-Shahat. The game between Esperance and Al Ahly will be played closed doors.

This is because Esperance have been ordered by the CAF to play four home games behind closed doors because of recent violent incidents involving their fans.

Esperance and Al Ahly have met 18 times in CAF competitions since 2007.

Al Ahly have the upper hand having recorded 10 wins compared to Esperance’s four victories while four games ended in a draw.

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