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CAFCL: Al Ahly focuses on securing final spot while Sétif attempt miracle comeback

Egypt’s Al Ahly are looking to cement their spot in a third straight CAF Champions League final on Saturday when they face ES Sétif in Algiers for their semifinal second leg. Ahly achieved a decisive 4-0 victory in the first leg played in Cairo to leave the defending champions with one step in the final. Sétif will need to find motivation from their 7-0 league victory earlier in the week and turn on the goals in order to have any chance of staging an improbable comeback and upstaging the Egyptian giants.

Sétif coach Darko Novic discussed how his team lost their focus in the first leg in all departments, leading to dire consequences when facing an accomplished side like Ahly. Another factor that the Sétif coaching staff noted was the red card expulsion to veteran midfielder Amir Karaoui, whose dismissal in the 35th minute gave the Black Eagles even more issues to deal with down 2-0. However, Novic will have his team ready to disrupt Ahly’s rhythm and pledged to give the home supporters in Algiers a positive result that can perhaps grow into the comeback they desire.

Without Karaoui, Sétif will lose some stability in the midfield but it will not change who they count on to generate the attack. Ahmed Kendouci needs to find more space and be more efficient in his touches after being constantly surrounded by Ahly defenders who made his life difficult. If the 22-year-old can find space and time on the ball it will lead to opportunities for playmaker Abdelmoumene Djabou as well as leading CAFCL scorer Riad Benayad and fellow forward Akram Djahnit.

Al Ahly and coach Pitso Mosimane are aiming to avoid complacency at all costs. The South African gaffer insisted that the mindstate is to treat the second leg as if the aggregate score is 0-0 and to aim to score goals, not defend for ninety minutes. Goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy agreed with his manager and added that he and his teammates are accustomed to playing in front of hostile crowds on big occasions.

There are question marks over the availability of central midfielders Hamdi Fathy and Amr El Solia with El Solia in particular looking unlikely to suit up. Fathy is recovering from injury and looks like he will have a role to play, likely off the bench. Ahly are certainly not at full strength but their defense is healthier than a couple of weeks ago and there is plenty of depth in the midfield and attack to cover for an absence or two. Percy Tau was excellent in the first leg and will be looking to celebrate his birthday this week with another starring role. With El Solia and Fathy questionable a start is likely guaranteed for creative midfielder Mohamed Magdy “Afsha” while Aliou Dieng takes responsibility for the ball winning duties.

ES Setif vs Al Ahly: Confirmation or Comeback (CAF Online)

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