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Champions League history can inspire Egypt’s Ahly

JOHANNESBURG: Al Ahly of Egypt can draw comfort from history as they face a win-or-bust CAF Champions League semi-final return match at home to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia this weekend. The winners of the elite African club competition a record eight times have not gone more than three seasons this century without reaching the final.

Ahly last featured in a Champions League title decider in 2013, defeating Orlando Pirates of South Africa, so they must eliminate former winners Etoile to maintain the proud record.

Etoile, who stunned Ahly in the 2007 final by winning away after only drawing at home, take a 2-1 lead into the second leg Sunday. Alaya Brigui gave the Tunisian outfit a first half lead that Saleh Gomaa cancelled midway through the second period before Mohamed Amine Ben Amor struck the winning goal.

Ahly coach Hossam El Badry believes the Gomaa strike could be crucial with away goals counting double in the event of an aggregate tie. “The goal scored by Saleh in Tunisia will make our mission a little easier,” he told reporters ahead of the second leg at the 85,000-seat Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria.

“We wasted several other chances during the first leg, but the home match will be different,” he added, without offering clues as to what could change. El Badry, who guided the “Red Devils” to 2012 Champions League glory, said the absence of suspended midfielder Ahmed Fathy would not upset his strategy. -AFP

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