A disastrous 2021-22 season left Ahly in the shadow of eternal rivals Zamalek and in search of answers to problems that only grew following the dismissal of head coach Pitso Mosimane, an event that resulted from Ahly’s defeat to Wydad in last season’s edition of the Champions League. Experienced Swiss coach Marcel Koller was brought in and his immediate impact was clear to see when Ahly defeated Zamalek 2-0 in October’s Egyptian Super Cup. Since then the 2022-23 season in Egyptian football has been dominated by Ahly who defeated Pyramids FC in the Egypt Cup final and are well on their way to clinching the Egyptian Premier League long before the final matchday.
The CAF Champions League tests the true mettle of Africa’s top clubs and this season’s group stage posed a challenge Koller did not experience in the domestic campaign. Mamelodi Sundowns, a club who have gotten the better of Ahly on occasion in recent years, continued to be a worthy rival and menace by drawing 2-2 in Cairo and then thumping Ahly 5-2 at home in Pretoria. Al-Hilal got the better of Ahly in Omdurman for a controversial 1-0 victory that left the Egyptian club in a precarious position and in need of help from Sundowns in Sudan. Once Ronwen Williams made that penalty kick save, however, it was the stroke of fortune that Koller and his squad needed to deliver the triumph Ahly supporters are celebrating now.
Ahly went on to defeat Wydad’s rivals, Raja CA, by a 2-0 aggregate score in the quarterfinals that saw them hold Raja scoreless in the second leg in front of a similarly hostile Stade Mohammed V crowd they would encounter again in the final. A 3-0 first leg victory in Tunis against another North African power club, Tunisian champions Espérance ST, made qualification for the final all but certain before the return leg in Cairo which Ahly won 1-0.