Can Esperance upset mighty Al Ahly?

Can Esperance upset mighty Al Ahly?
Esperance Tunis players warming up during the CAF Champions League 2023/24 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Friday May 17, 2024. 15:00

Esperance de Tunis will look to upset Al Ahly when the teams meet in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final, set for Stade Hammadi Agrebi in Tunis on the evening of Saturday 18 May 2024. Kick-off is at 21:00 CAT.

Esperance earned their place in the final by finishing second in Group C behind Petro de Luanda, before ousting ASEC Mimosas (4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 aggregate draw) and Mamelodi Sundowns (2-0 on aggregate) in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

Al Ahly’s path to the final saw them top Group D with an unbeaten record ahead of Young Africans, CR Belouizdad and Medeama SC, before blowing away both Simba SC and TP Mazembe 3-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.

The Egyptian giants are chasing a record-extending 12th Champions League title, and a fourth from the last five editions of the competition, but Esperance coach Miguel Cardoso believes his team can stop the juggernaut headed their way – if they have the assistance of their supporters in Tunis.

“I need you, the Esperance fans, to push us towards victory. Your support is vital for us to achieve great things. Together we can write a new page in the history of this legendary club,” said the Portuguese tactician.

In head-to-head terms, Esperance de Tunis and Al Ahly have met in 22 matches in African club competition since 2001. The Red Eagles have claimed 12 wins compared to four for the Blood and Gold, while six games have been drawn.

The teams last met in the semifinals of last season’s Champions League, with the Egyptian club claiming a 4-0 aggregate (3-0 away, 1-0 home) triumph, before going on to defeat Wydad Casablanca in the final.

Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal will take charge of the match in Tunis. The return game is set for the Cairo International Stadium on the evening of Saturday 25 May.

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