north african rivals lock horns in cafcl final

12:15    02 Nov 2018

Al Ahly player Walid Soliman celebrates after his scoerd against Horoya AC during the 2018 CAF Champions league game between Al Ahly and Horoya AC at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on 22 September 2018.
Al Ahly and Espérance Sportive de Tunis will renew their rivalry when they meet in the first-leg of the 2018 Caf Champions League final at Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Friday evening.

Kick-off is at 21h00 CAT (SA, GMT+2).

The two North African powerhouse clubs have locked horns on 16 previous occasions at various stages of the Caf Champions League, including the 2012 final where the Red Devils emerged victorious 3-2 on aggregate.

Al Ahly booked their place in an unprecedented 12th Caf Champions League final with a 3-2 aggregate win over 2014 champions ES Sétif over two legs. The Egyptian giants lost the second-leg 2-1 away in Algeria, but advanced thanks to a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture.

Espérance also made good use of their home tie in the semifinals. Following a 1-0 defeat to Primeiro de Agosto in Luanda, the Tunisian giants won the second-leg 4-2 to scrape into what will be their seventh final as they set their sights on a third Caf Champions League crown.

Mouine Chaabani will lead Espérance in the final with former head coach Khaled Ben Yahia sacked shortly after the club's defeat in Angola.

"Al Ahly are a great club in the continent," Chaabani told Tunisian newspaper La Presse.

"They have much experience, but we are determined to win the title. We suffered a lot against Primeiro de Agosto and I hope that the players took the lesson from this nerve-wracking game, and understood that nothing is guaranteed in the world of football.

"The most important thing is to believe in your capabilities and to fight to reach your target," he concluded.

Patrice Carteron was handed the Al Ahly reins earlier this year following a slow start to the competition, and is close to fulfilling his task of leading the club to a record ninth title.

The Frenchman previously tasted success in the competition as head coach of Democratic Republic of Congo giants TP Mazembe.

"I don't think of playing the home match and then the away one in Radès separately," Carteron said in build-up to the clash. "I only think that we will play 180 minutes in the African final.

"I have confidence in my players' determination to deliver their best in the two matches," he added.

"Fans attendance in the first leg will be a good boost for our players to secure the best possible result. I always consider Ahly fans as a partner in our victories.

"The supporters deserve the best and I promise the team will deliver a strong game,"he concluded.

The second-leg will take place at the Stade Olympique de Radès next Friday, the 9th of November.

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