Revenge is on the mind of reigning African champions Al Ahly when they take the pitch Saturday against South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns in their second CAF Champions League Group A encounter at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Sundowns pulled off a shock victory in Cairo by taking down Ahly 1-0 thanks to a goal from Thapelo Morena, and will look to consolidate their position at the top of the group. Masandawana currently sit on seven points while Ahly are tied with Sudanese sides Al-Hilal and Al-Merrikh three points back.
Sundowns will not be surprised by the ferocity the Egyptian side shows in Johannesburg and co-manager Manqoba Mngqithi told fans to sit back and enjoy what will likely be an entertaining duel between two of Africa’s top sides. Mngqithi remarked that the match should be an open affair with both teams looking for three points and neither side will be sitting back and absorbing pressure. The hosts played a domestic cup match midweek and utilized the depth in their squad to take down lower league side Mathaithai, leaving little worries about match congestion playing a role.
Starting goalkeeper Denis Onyango is still out but 37-year-old Zambian legend Kennedy Mweene showed the quality he still possesses in the 1-0 shutout in the last meeting and will be between the sticks. Rivaldo Coetzee and captain Andile Jali are expected to reprise their roles in the center of midfield while full backs and Bafana Bafana call-ups Lyle Lakay and Khuliso Mudau will get forward and support a forward line that includes irreplaceables Themba Zwane and Peter Shalulile.
Ahly have been dealing with some minor injury issues in defense but their attack is clicking on all fronts with ten goals in three games played since falling to Sundowns in late February. Match congestion is always an issue for Ahly but the team is confident after achieving an important 3-0 Egyptian Premier League victory over potential title rivals Pyramids FC on Tuesday. Ahly manager Pitso Mosimane no longer has injury issues to consider in his selection and has plenty of decisions to make when it comes to who he starts in attack.
After struggling to regain form following a nightmare 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign, Ahly striker Mohamed Sherif will lead the line having scored four goals in his last three games with Mohamed Magdy “Afsha” and Percy Tau probable starters in the three-man attacking line behind Sherif. Mali national team member Aliou Dieng was influential in the center of midfield and will likely start alongside either Hamdi Fathi or Amr El Solia while full backs Mohamed Hany and Ali Maâloul will need to hold their own in the wide battle against Lakay and Mudau.