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Wydad coach says ‘suicidal’ to shut up shop against Ahly in final

Johannesburg (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca coach Hussein Amotta said it would be “suicidal” to try and defend the 1-1 CAF Champions League final first-leg draw when they meet Al Ahly again Saturday.

A goalless second leg at the Stade Mohammed V would give the Moroccans victory over the Egyptians on the away-goal rule in the premier African club competition title decider.

But Amotta believes “parking the bus” is not an option as Wydad seek to win the competition for the second time after their 1992 triumph over Al Hilal of Sudan.

“Ahly boast one of the best attacks in Africa so it would be suicidal to sit back and defend against them, hoping to win on away goals,” the 48-year-old former midfielder said.

“We must attack because there are flaws in the Ahly defence, while not giving our opponents space to catch us on the counter.

“Wydad achieved a great result in Egypt by holding Ahly, one of the most experienced clubs in the continent.

“But this final is far from decided. I want my players to relax, attack when it is opportune and try very hard to score the first goal,” said Amotta.

Wydad, making their third appearance in the final having lost to Esperance of Tunisia six seasons ago, boast a perfect Champions League home record this year of six victories.

Among their victims were Ahly in the group stage with goals from now-departed Congo Brazzaville striker Fabrice Ondama and midfielder Walid El Karty delivering a 2-0 win. 

They also eliminated defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa on penalties after a Salaheddine Saidi goal won the second leg in Rabat.

The Wydad defence and goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi have been outstanding at home in Africa, going 517 minutes without conceding before USM Alger of Algeria netted in the semi-finals.

At the other end of the pitch, striker Achraf Bencharki has regained form at the right time, scoring three goals in his last two outings.   

His brace saw off USM in a 3-1 semi-final second-leg triumph and he levelled via a glancing header in the final after Ahly had snatched a third-minute lead via Moamen Zakaria.

Bencharki had scored only twice in 11 earlier Champions League matches this season for a club with two CAF titles to boast of having won the 2002 African Cup Winners Cup. 

Ahly may be on the back foot having squandered numerous chances in Alexandria with Morocco-born Walid Azaro the chief culprit after scoring a semi-finals hat-trick. 

They were also deprived of a blatant penalty during the second half when Azaro was floored in full sight of the generally unimpressive Ethiopian referee.

Record eight-time champions Ahly have a mixed away record in Africa this season, winning twice, drawing twice and losing twice.

The “Cairo Red Devils” will be encouraged, though, by a win and a draw from three previous visits to Wydad in the competition.

Coach Hossam El Badry remains hopeful of a second title under his watch, having guided the club to 2012 glory in a previous spell at the helm.

“We did not exploit our chances in the first leg and were denied an obvious penalty,” said the 57-year-old former Ahly defender.  

“Our overall performance was impressive and I believe in the abilities of my players. We will fight to achieve victory until the final whistle sounds.”

The champions will pocket a record $2.5 million (about 2.1 million euros) and secure a place at the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates during December.

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