Home wins loom for Martin Jol and Alex McLeish in African soccer

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

Former English Premier League managers Martin Jol and Alex McLeish should complete successful introductions to African football this weekend with Egyptian clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek.

Jol-coached Ahly host Recreativo Libolo of Angola in Mediterranean city Alexandria after missing many scoring chances in a goalless first leg.

McLeish-managed Zamalek are even better placed to progress as they have home advantage in Cairo and a 1-0 lead over Union Douala of Cameroon.

These CAF Champions League second legs are among 16 scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the last-32 stage of the premier African club competition.

Jol is a 60-year-old Dutchman who managed Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham in the Premier League, then took a two-year break from football before joining Ahly.

He wants an early goal at the 90,000-capacity Borg El Arab Stadium to settle nerves and restore confidence among the Red Devils after they missed a string of first-leg chances.

“We must score early to take control of the match,” Jol told the Egyptian media. “More missed chances will be unacceptable.

“I was satisfied with the performances of the players in Angola, but not with the wasteful finishing.”

Veteran striker Emad Meteb, the sole link with the Ahly teams that won three Champions League titles between 2005 and 2008, is fit to play after missing the trip to Angola.

Another first-leg absentee, goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, faces a fitness test while a leg injury rules out midfielder Saleh Gomaa.

Former Birmingham City and Aston Villa manager McLeish has warned his team to act “responsibly” in a clash of former African champions against Douala.

“I will not accept any irresponsibility at home,” the 57-year-old Scot warned his squad. “I hope the team can put together a good performance like they did in Cameroon.”

Nigerian midfielder Maarouf Yussuf has recovered from a first-leg injury while Douala absentee Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ Abdel Moneim is expected to be available.

Record eight-time title-holders Ahly and five-time winners Zamalek are among 11 Champions League hopefuls this year who have lifted the trophy.

Enyimba of Nigeria and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco appear certain to progress having built 5-1 home leads over Vital’O of Burundi and CNaPS of Madagascar respectively.

ASEC of Ivory Coast, who host Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa with a 1-0 lead, are also well positioned to advance, as are Etoile Sahel of Tunisia after holding Olympique Khouribga 1-1 in Morocco.

It would be a shock if defending champions TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2014 title-holders Entente Setif of Algeria did not qualify having forced away draws last weekend.

A multi-national Mazembe outfit that has changed French coaches, with Hubert Velud replacing out-of-contract Patrice Carteron, held Saint George 2-2 in Ethiopia.

Setif left Congo Brazzaville with a 1-1 draw against Etoile, a result that confirmed the Black Eagles as favourites to be involved in the round-of-16 during April.

Former champions in potential trouble are Club Africain of Tunisia and V Club of DR Congo, who managed only 1-0 first-leg victories.

Africain face Champions League debutants Mouloudia Bejaia of Algeria in an intriguing North African showdown.

V Club meet Ferroviario Maputo of Mozambique in an unexpectedly early challenge for impressive Congolese coach Florent Ibenge.

The medal collection of the 54-year-old includes a 2016 African Nations Championship gold, a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations bronze and a 2014 Champions League silver.

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