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Shock of extremes in the African Champions League. The Kaizer Chiefs team (South Africa) is playing Saturday July 17 in Casablanca (Morocco) the first final in its history against the club Al-Ahly (Egypt), defending champion and nine times winner of the continental competition. At the Mohammed-V stadium, the giant of Cairo, big favorite, openly dreams of establishing his overwhelming domination over African football by winning his tenth title in the event.
For Al-Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane, the final poster is heartbreaking, and for good reason: he is South African and the Kaizer Chiefs are the heart club of his childhood. “It’s a bit of a matter of conscience for me to face the Chiefs”, he admitted. “I am a South African who is preparing the rout of my compatriots”, underlined the former coach of Bafana Bafana. But “Al-Ahly does not do humanitarian work, distributing stars. We want to win “, he added.
Pitso Mosimane can rely on a team of stars from the continent: Egyptian goalkeeper and captain Mohamed El Shenawy, Egyptian striker Mohamed Sherif, Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul or Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng and Egyptian Mohamed Magdy alias Afsha. And a certain offensive power, with 23 goals scored for 6 conceded in 12 games (8 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss).
The Chiefs, surprise guests who reached the final by beating the odds, are a team “Mysterious” and “Difficult to analyze”, assured Pitso Mosimane. The Soweto club, despite being one of the continent’s great historic teams, only faced Al-Ahly once, in 2002, for a 4-1 defeat in Cairo.
Current Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane suffered that loss as a player at the time. “We haven’t won anything since 2015 [un seul titre de champion d’Afrique du Sud] and it is time to put an end to this unacceptable statistic ”, did he declare. The Chiefs will try to muzzle the Egyptians with their efficient defense, which has kept their clean sheet 11 times out of 14 games in the competition.
South African international center-back Eric Mathoho will be crucial in helping them in their endeavor, especially as they have only scored 12 goals, less than one per game.
Among their squad are also the experienced and combative Zimbabwean midfielder Willard Katsande and the promising South African midfielder Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, as well as the Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic.
Refereed by the Burundian Pacific Ndabihawenima, this final will be the fourth in the African Champions League between Egyptian and South African clubs, with a record of two wins to one for the Egyptians.