New Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane confronts bogey club Wydad in CAF Champions League

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New Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane.
New Al Ahly head coach Pitso Mosimane.
Al Ahly

Pitso Mosimane, the first sub-Saharan African to coach Al Ahly of Egypt, faces his bogey club, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, Saturday in a CAF Champions League semi-final first leg.

Before moving to the 113-year-old Cairo club last month, the South African had tackled Wydad eight times as coach of Mamelodi Sundowns and succeeded just twice.

This is the first major test for the Ahly coach after two victories and a draw in the Egyptian Premier League since replacing Swiss Rene Weiler, who did not renew his contract.

Ahly and Wydad have met eight times in the elite African club competition from 2011 and each side has won twice.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the first matches in the Champions League since the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic after the quarter-finals last February.

Wydad v Ahly

Wydad scored 18 goals in 10 matches en route to the penultimate stage - the fewest among the four contenders for the $2.5 first prize.

Mohamed Nahiri is the joint leading individual scorer for the Casablanca outfit with four goals, and he is a left-back.

But if two-time champions Wydad battle to score consistently, they boast a defence backed by goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti that has conceded only eight times in the African campaign.

Ahly have netted 29 Champions League goals this season, but 13 came in a two-leg preliminary round rout of South Sudanese side Atlabara.

Midfielder Hussein el Shahat has scored five times and is part of a 22-man squad that flew across north Africa for the first leg.

Mosimane chose five non-Egyptians - defender Ali Maaloul (Tunisia), midfielders Aliou Dieng (Mali) and Geraldo (Angola) and forwards Junior Ajayi (Nigeria) and Aliou Badji (Senegal).

Raja v Zamalek

Raja Casablanca of Morocco were African champions three times between 1989 and 1999, but the closest they have come to a fourth title was losing the 2002 final to Zamalek of Egypt.

A solitary goal from Tamer Abdel Hamid in the second leg kept the trophy in Cairo after Ahly triumphed the previous year.

This tie, which begins Sunday, could be equally tight with Raja coach Jamal Sellami telling reporters "all four clubs have equal chances of winning the Champions League".

Zamalek recently lost coach Patrice Carteron to Saudi Arabian club Al Taawoun and replaced the Frenchman with Portuguese Jaime Pacheco.

As he began a second stint at the White Knights, Pacheco said "I came back because I love Zamalek and my target is to win the Champions League".

He included in his squad Tunisian Ferjani Sassi amid confusion over the result of a Covid-19 test while the midfielder was on national team duty since last week.

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