Ahly send Pirates warning
Johannesburg - CAF Champions League title-holders Al-Ahly have vowed to avenge a three-goal drubbing by Orlando Pirates when they clash in Soweto Sunday.
The record African loss for the Egyptians came on matchday 2 in Red Sea resort El-Gouna as the South Africans pulled off a stunning upset.
Thandani Ntshumayelo scored early for Pirates and after Walid Soliman fluffed a penalty and Ahmed Abdul-Zaher was sent off, Andile Jali and Sifiso Myeni applied the killer blows.
But as Group A progressed the tide turned with Ahly winning three matches on the trot while Pirates have lost their last two.
"I have spoken to my players about the need to pay back Pirates for that defeat," Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef told Egyptian reporters.
"We want to top the table because that would mean a home second leg in the semi-finals and, if successful, in the final too.
"Watching videos of Pirates' recent matches convinces me that we have a good chance of achieving a good result in South Africa."
Midfielder Abdullah Al-Saied backed the confidence of his coach as Ahly seek to become the first Egyptian club to win a Champions League game in South Africa.
"We are desperate to avenge what Pirates did to us in El-Gouna and our plan is to attack whenever feasible," he said.
Fellow midfielder Ahmed Shedid added: "There is no question of us taking it easy because we are into the semi-finals as we want to finish first."
Pirates coach Roger de Sa is looking forward to tackling Ahly on a good pitch after losing to Leopards on a hard, bumpy surface last weekend.
"It will be nice to play football on a proper pitch at Orlando Stadium. Losing away to Zamalek and Leopards has been disappointing, but all is not lost."
Record seven-time champions Ahly go into the showdown with 10 points and are assured of a semi-finals place, but not of leading the final standings.
A win for Pirates, the only South African outfit to win the premier African club competition, would give them top spot, and a draw might suffice for second place.
AC Leopards of Congo-Brazzaville, level with Pirates on seven points, play out-of-contention Zamalek of Egypt in El-Gouna in a simultaneous kick-off.
Head-to-head rules will separate sides finishing level on points and if the Congolese and South Africans both draw or lose, Leopards go through as runners-up.
While Group A is set for a dramatic climax, Group B has been settled with Esperance of Tunisia finishing first and Coton Sport of Cameroon also securing a last-four place.
Coton have lost just once this season in 11 qualifiers and group games and they can avenge a 2-0 reverse in Tunis when Esperance play in Garoua Saturday.
Recreativo Libolo of Angola, without a win in four games since shocking Esperance, host Sewe San Pedro of Ivory Coast in Calulo and a win will lift them off the bottom.
Esperance play the Group A runners-up and Coton Sport the Group A winners in the semi-finals during October and the November final is also a two-leg affair.
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