Ahly out to make history
Thu, 8 Nov 2007 - 23:44
By: Hatem Maher
Ahly-Etoile face off in African decider
Ahly will be seeking an unprecedented third successive Champions League title when they host Etoile Sahel in the second-leg of the competition's final on Friday.
The Cairo giants, who will also bag a record-breaking sixth title if they beat Etoile, held the Tunisians to a goalless draw in Sousse in the first-leg.
In the 2005 final, Ahly also settled for a goalless away draw with Etoile before crushing them in Cairo 3-0 to claim the trophy.
The dominant tone has been one of optimism among Red Devils fans but manager Manuel Jose is calling for focus ahead of the anticipating encounter.
"I have to admit that we concluded our target in Sousse but we still have to work very hard to make sure that this cup stays with us," he said.
"Etoile are a very good team and honestly they deserve all the respect. They have some very good young players and they are certainly a tough challenger."
Ahly approach the game with an almost full-strength side, following the recovery of injured trio Ahmed Al-Sayed, Gilberto and Emad Al-Nahhas.
Classy playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika, who sustained a minor knock in training, will be also available for the crunch meeting.
Mohamed Barakat is the only absentee for Ahly through automatic suspension, after picking up a controversial yellow card in the first-leg.
Etoile will be desperate to overcome their ill-fated appearances in the final of Africa's premier competition.
The Tunisians reached two successive Champions League finals in 2004 and 2005 but failed in their attempts to capture the trophy, losing to Nigeria's Enyimba and Ahly respectively.
Etoile officials were in confident mood ahead of the first-leg, but following the draw, they became more cautious.
"The result in Sousse neither made our task difficult nor paved the way for our triumph. We will face a powerful team, the best African team in the 20th century," Etoile president Moez Driss said.
Etoile will be missing skipper Seif Ghezal and left full back Mehdi Meriah, both for suspension.