In the upcoming African Football League (AFL) semifinal second leg, Egypt’s Ahly is set to take on South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns at the Cairo International Stadium. The Red Devils are resolute in their quest to reverse the outcome of the first leg and secure a spot in the final.
Ahly experienced a tight 1-0 defeat against Sundowns in the initial match at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld Stadium, where Thapelo Maseko found the net with a crucial goal just seven minutes into the second half.
In their recent meetings, the Cairo Giants have faced difficulties against Sundowns, enduring four losses, one of which was a significant 5-2 setback in the CAF Champions League last March, and they have only secured two draws.
Despite the adversity, Ahly’s coach Marcel Koller remains optimistic about his team’s potential to mount a comeback against Sundowns. He underscored the significance of the expected strong fan presence at Cairo Stadium, citing their support as a key motivating factor for the players.
“I am delighted that we will be performing in front of a packed Cairo Stadium. Our fans are a great source of motivation, and their presence is absolutely crucial,” Koller stated during the pre-match press conference held on Tuesday.
Koller also expressed his dissatisfaction with the video assistant referee (VAR) system used in the first leg, highlighting its failure to award his team a clear penalty when Percy Tau was fouled inside the penalty box.
Conversely, Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena criticized Ahly for their grievances concerning the refereeing decisions in the first leg, urging the Red Devils to concentrate solely on their performance on the field.
“I find it surprising that Ahly is raising complaints about various aspects. Before the first leg, they requested a change in the match start time, which was already accommodated. Additionally, every time they face a loss against us, they file complaints against the referees,” the coach stated during the pre-match press conference held on Tuesday.
The victor of this match will confront the winner of the other semifinal, which features Tunisia’s Esperance and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca. The Moroccan side currently holds a 1-0 advantage from the first leg.
It’s worth noting that the champion of the AFL will be awarded a substantial prize of $4 million, the most substantial reward in continental club competitions.
LIVE: Al Ahly v Sundowns | AFL Second leg
Live feed will updated 30 minutes before the K.O.