It is a much-anticipated clash between the continental giants. All eyes will be on how Mosimane will fare against the Masandawana machine he created
Al Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns renew their rivalry when they confront each other at the WE Al Ahly Stadium in Saturday’s Caf Champions League quarter-final, first leg match.
For a third season running, Al Ahly and Sundowns are clashing at this stage of the continent’s premier club football competition.
With Al Ahly struggling for consistency in the Egyptian Premier League, pressure continues to increase on Mosimane.
He was in charge when Sundowns made many signings before the start of this season. The only transfer he didn’t oversee for the South African club, was the mid-season arrival of Rushine De Reuck.
|Game||Al Ahly vs Mamelodi Sundowns|
|Date||Saturday, May 15|
|Time||21:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
Squads & Team News
Mosimane will be without left-back Ali Maaloul who is close to returning from injury and earlier this week the football director Sayed Abdelhafiz confirmed that the Tunisian will make the trip to Tshwane for the second leg.
Maaloul’s absence is a huge blow for Al Ahly going into a match of this magnitude against Sundowns.
Also not available for the Sundowns match is midfielder Akram Tawfik who has made five Champions League appearances this season.
But there is some good news for Mosimane with the return of Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi from injury who might start from the bench.
Midfield playmaker Nasser Maher is also back after missing last weekend’s league clash against Zamalek. Badr Benoun and Yasser Ibrahim are also available after injuries.
Much of Sundowns’ concern during the build-up to this match has been the fitness of star player Themba Zwane who has issues with his hamstring.
Earlier this week, co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi told Marawa Sport Worldwide from Cairo that they hope Zwane will recover in time for the Al Ahly clash but they will not risk him if he is uncomfortable to play.
The 30-year-old was injured in a Premier Soccer League match against Maritzburg United and his hamstring straight was initially thought to sideline him for a longer period of time before his fitness hopes were restored.
Another Sundowns player in a fitness race is Sphelele Mkhulise who was also injured against Maritzburg United.
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango is expected to be back after missing Masandawana’s last league match against TS Galaxy.
Sundowns have established rivalries with North African teams, notably against Wydad Casablanca.
But Al Ahly have also been emerging as their arch-enemy after the two sides met in the Caf Champions League quarter-finals in the past two seasons.
It was the Cairo giants who eliminated Sundowns from last season’s campaign following a 2-0 home win before holding the Tshwane giants 1-1 in the second leg in Pretoria.
In the previous season, Sundowns hammered Al Ahly 5-0 at home, before they lost 1-0 away in Cairo.
Now it is the third time in successive seasons these continental giants are facing each other.
Al Ahly host Sundowns amid inconsistent results in the Egyptian Premier League where they have won two games, drawn as many and lost once in their last five outings.
This has left them seven points behind log leaders Zamalek although Mosimane’s men have played three matches fewer.
Sundowns, on the other hand, have recovered from a rough patch and have won their last three league games while drawing the other and losing to Kaizer Chiefs.
But they did not end their group stage campaign on a high note. After winning four straight group games, including against TP Mazembe away in Lubumbashi, Sundowns threatened to finish this stage of the competition with a 100 percent record.
But they were then held 0-0 away at Al Hilal, before signing off the group with a 2-0 home defeat by CR Belouizdad.
Their opponents Al Ahly are unbeaten in their last four Champions League outings.