Saturday, July 17
*Kaizer Chiefs (South Africa) Vs Al Ahly (Egypt), 10pm
Al Ahly will be going for their 10th CAF Champions League title when they face off with Kaizer Chiefs in Saturday’s final at Stade Mohammed in Casablanca, Morocco.
The Egyptian giants are the odds favourites and defending champions having won their ninth crown last year when they beat Zamalek.
In fact, that was their first CAF CL title in seven years and much credit will go to coach Pitso Mosimane.
Before, they had lost two back-to-back finals in 2017 (Wydad) and 2018 (Esperance).
With Mosimane and the money, Al Ahly, christened as the African Club of the Century, wants to dominate the African game for extended stretches.
But their dominance and ambitions will be put to test on Saturday against a stubborn South African side.
“It is an opportunity for Al Ahly to win our 10th CAF Champions League title and make history. It’s also an opportunity for the players and coaching staff to write their own history. It’s an honor to play in a Champions League final,” Al Ahly coach Pitso is quoted by CAF media.
“We have worked very hard to be here. It’s never easy but we think we can win. We respect our opponents but we have confidence in ourselves.
“We fear no one but it’s about respect and reality. Kaizer Chiefs is a good team in their own way, and this way helped them all the way to the final. They are strong on counter attacks and set pieces, and they have some intelligent players. If you want to win you have to respect your opponents.
“The system that makes you win is always a good system. We will go the way that helped us to win the trophy last year and brought us to this final. I’m not worried of the way Kaizer Chiefs play, but I’m aware of it.
“As a coach, I have always had pressure. No coach for Al Ahly can have rest and has his comfort zone. Coaches should enjoy the pressure and strive with it.”
They came second in Group B with 11 points, two behind leaders Simba (Tanzania), a team that beat them 1-0 at the national stadium in Dar Es Salaam.
In the knockout, they eliminated South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 on aggregate in the quarters before ousting Tunisia’s Esperance thanks to a 4-0 aggregate win on the semis.
The Chiefs on the other hand, have not been a household name outside South Africa when it comes to CAF’s Inter club competitions.
Despite their enormous domestic success, this is their first trip to the CAF Champions League final. Can they make it count?
“This is every player’s dream to play at such level. As a team, we have worked very hard to reach this final. We deserve to be here,” Bernard Parker, Captain Kaizer Chiefs said.
“All the players are happy, excited, and looking forward to this match. We have a good mix of players, young and experienced. The young ones are excited to be a part of this team. We have a good spirit and this affected our performance so far. It’s time now to perform once again.
“We are in a CAF final after 20 years. Every player knows the club’s history and what has gone through the years.
“We are in a position to write history and we are aware of that. We had a lot of support from everyone and we can’t wait for the game to start. With our preparations, we are stronger that any time before in the competition. We are going to give everything for 90 minutes to write history.”
Kaizer came second in Group C with nine points, having lost 4-0 to eventual group leaders Wydad in Ouagadougou.
They overcame Simba 4-3 in a thrilling quarter before taking a revenge on Wydad to win 1-0 on aggregate in the semifinals.
Will Kaizer Chiefs get their revenge on Ahly, a side that humiliated them 4-1 in the 2002 CAF Super Cup match in Cairo? Or its a 10th title for the iconic Al Ahly.