Home Sport Chiefs roll out the red carpet for Pitso’s Al Ahly ahead of...

Chiefs roll out the red carpet for Pitso’s Al Ahly ahead of crunch clash against Sundowns

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Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane celebrates as Al Ahly win the 2021 CAF Super Cup match between Al Ahly and Raja Casablanca held at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on 22 December 2021. Picture: Mohamed Bissar, BackpagePix

The Egyptian giants arrived in South Africa on Wednesday afternoon and will spend the next two days preparing at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena.

Cape Town – Kaizer Chiefs have become a major factor in Al Ahly’s charge for victory against Mamelodi Sundowns in Saturday’s Caf Champions League showdown at the FNB Stadium.

The Egyptian giants arrived in South Africa on Wednesday afternoon and have been spending their time preparing at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena. The complex includes numerous playing fields, training facilities and the fully-fledged high performance centre (HPC) was officially opened by former President Nelson Mandela in April 2002.

Spending time at the home of Chiefs will be an emotional experience for Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane. In his youth, Mosimane was a staunch Chiefs supporter. Mosimane’s last contact with Chiefs was the Champions League final last season at Stade Mohammed V, in Casablanca, Morocco, where Al Ahly won 3-0.

One of Al Ahly’s most valuable players, talisman Percy Tau, is another who hero-worshipped Chiefs in his youth. He and Mosimane will be impressed by state-of-the-art HPC facilities which also include saunas and ice baths.

After Orlando Pirates, Sundowns remain Chiefs’ biggest rivals on the domestic front and Al Ahly’s time at Naturena may provide the visiting Egyptians with a timely boost. Strangely, three weeks ago, Sundowns were preparing for their clash against Al Ahly at one of Egypt’s finest training centres in Alexandria.

The Egyptian facility provided Sundowns with a substantial moral lift. Sundowns’ co-coach Rulani Mokwena was moved to say the Alexandria facility, which was used by a world-famous team like Atletico Madrid in the past, was as comfortable as their base in Chloorkop, Kempton Park.

He referred to Alexandria as a “second home” and they are as comfortable as they would be at Chloorkop.

Al Ahly flew to South Africa a few hours after defeating Pyramids FC 3-0 in an Egyptian Premier League clash at the Al Salam Stadium, in Cairo on Tuesday night. It was Pyramids’ first defeat of the season, and unbeaten Al Ahly has replaced them on top of the domestic log. The former Cape Town City striker Fagrie Lakay was in the Pyramids’ line-up.

Despite the 3-0 margin, Pyramids manager Ehab Galal was unimpressed with Al Ahly’s performance. Some of his post-match comments will be music to the ears of Sundowns’ technical staff.

“Al Ahly were more fortunate today, that’s all I can say,” said Galal, adding that his team did not deserve to lose.

“We wasted many goal-scoring chances through Lakay and Ibrahim Adel, I don’t believe we deserved to lose the game. The goals Al Ahly scored were the results of our players’ missed passes. They (Al Ahly) didn’t score because of their game plan.

“On the attacking side, we were better. Look how many chances we created compared to Al Ahly.

“Al Ahly didn’t really attack. They just played long balls to their forwards without creating real chances.”

Mosimane, armed with a fresh two-year contract, has warned his detractors he still has a great deal to achieve at Al Ahly. Since arriving there two seasons ago, Mosimane claimed back-to-back Caf Champions League and Caf Super Cup titles.

On Thursday, Mosimane announced the 23-man squad set to face Sundowns in their Group A game on Saturday (kickoff 3pm). The notable absentee is defensive midfielder Akram Tawfik who is injured.

The full squad, goalkeepers: Mohamed El-Shennawy, Ali Lotfy, Mostafa Shobeir.

Defenders: Rami Rabia, Yasser Ibrahim, Ayman Ashraf, Mohamed Abdelmonem, Mohamed Hany, Karim Fouad, Mahmoud Wahid, Ali Maaloul.

Midfielders: Aliou Dieng, Hamdi Fathi, Amr El-Sulya, Mohamed Magdy Afsha, Ahmed Abdelkader, Mohamed Mahmoud, Taher Mohamed Taher, Hussein El-Shahat, Luis Miquissone, Percy Tau.

Strikers: Hossam Hassan and Mohamed Sherif.

@Herman_Gibbs

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