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CAFCL Quarterfinal Second Leg Preview: Raja CA (MAR) vs. Al Ahly (EGY)

The Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca will be at full voice for a second consecutive day when Raja CA attempt to come back from a two-goal deficit in their CAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg clash against Egypt’s Al Ahly on Saturday. A composed performance from the current Egyptian Premier League leaders earned them a 2-0 first leg victory in Cairo and the Red Devils are in good position to eliminate Raja at this stage for the second consecutive season. While Ahly are confident of getting the result they need, Raja are eager to impress their home supporters and gain revenge for last season.

Due to a poor start to the season, Raja are in serious danger of failing to qualify for CAF club competition next season by virtue of their position in Morocco’s top division Botola Pro but the Green Eagles have enjoyed an excellent campaign in the CAF Champions League this season under head coach Mondher Kebaier. The Tunisian tactician came out with a fiery attitude in his pre-match comments, declaring that his Raja team will overcome the deficit while citing Ahly’s defeats to Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Masry by three goals as reasons for Raja to be hopeful. Apparently nobody told Kebaier that the defeat to Masry was a forfeited match from the Cairo club’s abandoned Egyptian League Cup campaign but Ahly’s 5-2 defeat to Sundowns in South Africa does show they are not invincible.

The only notable absence for Raja is Mohamed Nahiri who lined up at right back in the first leg. Kebaier needs forwards Hamza Khabba and Yousri Bouzok to display the form they showed during the group stage and contribute goals to help Raja’s cause. Zakaria Habti, Mohamed Zrida and Abdelilah Hafidi are all creative options in the midfield who can provide the service for Khabba and Bouzok, particularly Habti’s ability to serve accurate set piece deliveries. The issue with Raja is that the team can lack explosiveness, making set pieces a desired method of scoring with defenders Marouane Hadhoudi and Jamal Harkass providing large targets.

Al Ahly continue to maintain a high level of confidence under head coach Marcel Koller and have no fear of the atmosphere they will encounter in Casablanca after defeating Raja last season. The Swiss coach pointed out that the unity among his players helps them overcome issues such as injuries or the atmospheres they encounter away from home. Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy also expressed confidence and his view that he and his teammates enjoy the presence of the Moroccan supporters as well as the pressure these sorts of matches bring.

Koller will have one player missing who participated in the first leg with central midfielder Amr El Solia ruled out due to a muscle injury. El Solia was replaced close to the 70th minute by Hamdi Fathi who scored the second goal and should be in the starting eleven along with Aliou Dieng and Marwan Attia who is in excellent form. Hussein El Shahat, Percy Tau and Kahraba are likely to form the forward line due to their good form in recent matches. Outside of Fathi’s likely inclusion in the eleven, the rest of the team Koller used in the first leg should keep their places including fullbacks Mohamed Hany and Ali Maâloul as well as central defenders Mohamed Abdelmonem and Mahmoud Metwaly.

More on the match from Moroccan and Egyptian media is in the links below.

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