Al Ahly CAF Champions League

Al Ahly head into the 2021/22 CAF Champions League final against Wydad Athletic Club on the verge of history. Photo: Twitter @AlAhlyEnglish

CAF Champions League final | Factfile: Al Ahly and Wydad Athletic Club

Al Ahly head into the 2021/22 CAF Champions League final against Wydad Athletic Club on the verge of history.

Al Ahly CAF Champions League

Al Ahly head into the 2021/22 CAF Champions League final against Wydad Athletic Club on the verge of history. Photo: Twitter @AlAhlyEnglish

Egyptian giants Al Ahly head into the 2021/22 CAF Champions League final against Moroccan hosts Wydad Athletic Club on Monday, 30 May thrilled to be on the verge of creating history, but furious at the choice of venue. 

Kick-off is at 21:00 (SA time).

READ | PERCY TAU NAMED IN AL AHLY SQUAD

Al Ahly are among four teams who have won the marquee African club competition twice in a row since its 1964 debut, but all of them failed when attempting to secure a third straight success.

Having flopped in 2007 and 2014, the Cairo Red Devils have a third chance after victories over fellow Egyptians Zamalek and South Africans Kaizer Chiefs in the previous two title deciders.   

But hopes of further glory suffered a huge blow when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) controversially decided to stage the final at the Stade Mohammed V, the home ground of Wydad.

READ | FULL LIST OF PSL 2021/22 AWARD WINNERS

CAF said Morocco and Senegal were the only countries who applied to host the highlight of the African club calendar and the west Africans later withdrew, without offering an explanation.

Angry Al Ahly officials asked the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – the highest legal body in sport – to force CAF to choose a neutral venue instead, but the appeal failed.

READ | NOTTINGHAM FOREST PROMOTED TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Playing in Casablanca means Wydad will have the backing of about 35 000 supporters in a crowd limited to 45 000 – two thirds of the capacity.

Wydad fans rank among the most passionate and partisan in Africa with their limitless energy enabling them to sing, cheer and dance whenever their heroes have the ball, and boo when opponents have it.

However, South Africa-born Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane believes his side can succeed and win the competition a record-extending 11th time since first conquering the continent 40 years ago.

“I want to win every competition Ahly are involved in. Our millions of supporters expect nothing less,” he told the Egyptian media.

Pitso Mosimane eyes history with Al Ahly

“(Portuguese coach) Manuel Jose had several spells as Ahly coach and achieved a great deal – but he could not win every competition.

“I do not know whether I can surpass him in terms of the number of titles Ahly win, but I am certainly going to try.”

Jose was fortunate to coach the greatest Ahly team of them all – a 2005-2008 squad including three Egyptian legends, goalkeeper Essam el Hadary, defender Wael Gomaa and midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika.

WIN | ANSWER THESE 5 EASY SOCCER QUESTIONS AND YOU COULD WIN R1 000

Jose holds the coaches’ record for CAF club titles with eight – four Champions Leagues and four Super Cups – and Mosimane lies second with six.

What the Portuguese could not achieve was three Champions League titles in a row, so Mosimane has a chance to create history in Casablanca.

Apart from his two successes with Al Ahly, the 57-year-old former South Africa forward led Mamelodi Sundowns to CAF Champions League glory in 2016.

Wydad and Al Ahly have clashed five times in Casablanca and honours are even with two victories each and one draw.

READ | SUNDOWNS COACH WELCOMES RECRUITMENT DRIVE BY CHIEFS, PIRATES

The most recent meeting was the 2020 semi-final first leg, won 2-0 by Al Ahly through goals from Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy and Ali Maaloul.

Tunisian Maaloul, a classy left-back with a fondness for pushing forward, is set to start on Monday, but attacking midfielder Magdy could be among the substitutes.

Although six-goal Mohamed Sherif is the leading Al Ahly scorer in this CAF Champions League campaign, Mosimane usually starts with a strike force of South African Percy Tau, Taher Mohamed and Ahmed Abdel Kader.

France-born Wydad coach Walid Regragui says a tight schedule of domestic and CAF fixtures has led to injuries, but hopes defender Achraf Dari and midfielder Jalal Daoudi will be fit.

Battle-hardened midfielder Yahya Jabrane captains the Moroccan side and a powerful right foot has helped him become the leading scorer for the Red Castle in Africa with five goals.

READ | ORLANDO PIRATES’ CAF DREAM DASHED BY RECORD NUMBER OF DRAWS

Al Ahly head into the CAF Champions League final against Wydad Athletic Club on the verge of history, but furious at the choice of venue. Photo: Twitter @AlAhlyEnglish

Factfile for CAF Champions League finalists Al Ahly of Egypt:

Formed: 1907

Home grounds: Cairo International Stadium (capacity: 75,000) and Al Salam Stadium (30,000)

Popular name: Red Devils

Possible team (EGY unless noted): Mohamed el Shenawy (capt); Mohamed Hany, Mohamed Abdelmonem, Yasser Ibrahim, Ali Maaloul (TUN); Hussein el Shahat, Hamdy Fathy, Aliou Dieng (MLI); Taher Mohamed, Percy Tau (RSA), Ahmed Abdel Kader

Coach: Pitso Mosimane (RSA)

Route to final: Round of 32: Garde Nationale (NIG) 6-1 home, 1-1 away; Group A: Al Hilal (SUD) 1-0 0-0, Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA) 0-1 0-1, Al Merrikh (SUD) 3-2 3-1; Quarter-finals: Raja Casablanca (MAR) 2-1 1-1; Semi-finals: Entente Setif (ALG) 4-0 2-2

Scorers: 6 – Mohamed Sherif; 3 – El Shahat, Tau; 2 – Abdel Kader, Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy; 1 – Abdelmonem, El Soulia, Fathy, Mahmoud Kahraba, Maaloul, Mohamed, Mustafa Karshoum (Merrikh)-own goal

Previous Champions League appearances: 1998 – first round, 1999 – Group A, 2000 – Group B, 2001 – champions, 2002 – Group A, 2004 – first round, 2005 – champions, 2006 – champions, 2007 – runners-up, 2008 – champions, 2009 – second round, 2010 – semi-finals, 2011 – Group B, 2012 – champions, 2013 – champions, 2014 – second round, 2015 – second round, 2016 – Group A, 2017 – runners-up, 2018 – runners-up, 2019 – quarter-finals, 2020 – champions, 2021 – champions 

Factfile for CAF Champions League finalists Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco:

Formed: 1937

Home ground: Stade Mohammed V (capacity: 67,000)

Popular name: Red Castle

Possible team (MAR unless noted): Ahmed Tagnaouti; Ayoub el Amloud, Achraf Dari, Amine Farhane, Yahia Attiyat Allah; Badie Aouk, Jalal Daoudi, Yahya Jabrane (capt), Reda Jaadi; Ayman el Hassouni; Guy Mbenza (CGO)

Coach: Walid Regragui (FRA)

Route to final: Round of 32: Hearts of Oak (GHA) 6-1 home, 0-1 away; Group D: Sagrada Esperanca (ANG) 3-0 2-1, Petro Luanda (ANG) 5-1 1-2, Zamalek (EGY) 3-1 1-0; Quarter-finals: Chabab Belouizdad (ALG) 0-0 1-0; Semi-finals: Petro 1-1 3-1

Scorers: 5 – Jabrane; 3 – Dari, Zouhair el Moutaraji, Mbenza; 2 – El Hassouni, Farhane, Simon Msuva (TAN), Juvhel Tsoumou (CGO); 1 – Daoudi, Muaid Ellafi (LBA), Anas Serrhat, Tiago Azulao (Petro) own-goal

Previous Champions League appearances: 2007 – second round, 2011 – runners-up, 2016 – semi-finals, 2017 – champions, 2018 – quarter-finals, 2019 – runners-up, 2020 – semi-finals, 2021 – semi-finals

CAF Champions League head-to-head record between Al Ahly and Wydad Athletic Club:

2011

Group B

Wydad 1 Ahly 1; Ahly 3 Wydad 3

2016

Group A

Wydad 0 Ahly 1; Ahly 0 Wydad 0

2017

Group D

Wydad 2 Ahly 0; Ahly 2 Wydad 0

Final

Wydad 1 Ahly 0; Ahly 1 Wydad 1

2020

Semi-final

Wydad 0 Ahly 2; Ahly 3 Wydad 1

Complete list of CAF Champions League title winners:

10: Al Ahly (EGY)

5: TP Mazembe (COD), Zamalek (EGY) 

4: Esperance (TUN)

3: Canon Yaounde (CMR), Hafia (GUI), Raja Casablanca (MAR)

2: Entente Setif, JS Kabylie (both ALG), Asante Kotoko (GHA), Enyimba (NGR), Wydad Casablanca (MAR)

1: ASEC Mimosas, Stade Abidjan (both CIV), Club Africain, Etoile Sahel (both TUN), Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates (both RSA), Oryx Douala, Union Douala (both CMR), Mouloudia Alger (ALG), CARA (CGO), FAR Rabat (MAR), Hearts of Oak (GHÁ), Ismaily (EGY), V Club (COD) 

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse

Al Ahly head into the CAF Champions League final against Wydad Athletic Club on the verge of history, but furious at the choice of venue. Photo: Twitter @AlAhlyEnglish