Johannesburg (AFP) – The CAF Champions League quarter-finals draw made in Cairo on Wednesday offered local club Al Ahly a chance to avenge one of the most humiliating defeats in their 113-year history.
Ahly were trounced 5-1 on aggregate by Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the quarter-finals last year, and the clubs will meet at the same stage this season.
The 5-0 first-leg loss was the heaviest suffered by the Cairo Red Devils in an international competition and the biggest since a 6-0 defeat by Zamalek in the 1942 Egyptian Cup final.
“They performed like amateurs,” said pundit and former Ahly star Wael Gomaa at the time. “The team showed no personality‚ no spirit‚ no leadership. It was an utter shambles.”
One difference this season is that Ahly will enjoy home advantage first, on February 28 or 29 in Cairo, with the return match in Pretoria the following weekend.
Another change is that Uruguayan Martin Lasarte no longer coaches Ahly with Swiss Rene Weiler now in charge of the club that have been African champions a record eight times.
Former South Africa forward and coach Pitso Mosimane has steered Sundowns since 2012 and led them to their lone Champions League title four years ago.
Ahly and Sundowns have reached the knockout stage with identical records of seven victories, two draws and one loss from qualifying and group matches.
The Egyptians fell away to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the group stage while the South Africans went down in their first qualifier, against AS Otoho in Congo Brazzaville.
Esperance of Tunisia and Zamalek of Egypt meet in Qatar on February 14 for the CAF Super Cup, an annual match between the Champions League and Confederation Cup trophy-holders.
Then, just two weeks later, the Blood and Gold and White Knights clash again, this time in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final in Cairo.
Esperance are seeking a third straight title — a feat not even the great 2005-2008 Ahly team of Essam el Hadary, Gomaa, Mohamed Aboutrika, Mohamed Barakat and Emad Moteab could achieve.
Moroccan city Casablanca provide two contenders with Raja facing TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Wydad meeting Etoile Sahel.
All eight survivors have won the competition, led by Ahly with eight successes, including two back-to-back triumphs.
Al Ahly (EGY) v Mamelodi Sundowns (RSA)
Raja Casablanca (MAR) v TP Mazembe (COD)
Zamalek (EGY) v Esperance (TUN, holders)
Wydad Casablanca (MAR) v Etoile Sahel (TUN)
First legs: Feb 28/29, second: Mar 6/7
Raja/Mazembe v Zamalek/Esperance
Wydad/Etoile v Ahly/Sundowns
First legs: May 1/2, second: May 8/9
Note: final will be played on May 29 at a neutral venue to be announced
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
110+ channels, live & on-demand
- Price: $59.95/mo. for Plus Package
- Includes FOX, FS1, ESPN, TUDN & more
- Arsenal set Women’s Super League attendance record
- Southgate, Kane claim England are nearly powerless over Qatar
- Premier League should be decreased to 18 teams, says David Dein
- Southgate holding England back from being world beaters
- Where to find Mexico vs. Peru on US TV
- Where to find Czech Republic vs. Portugal on US TV
- Where to find Spain vs. Switzerland on US TV
- Where to find Scotland vs. Ireland on US TV
- England relegated from top tier of UEFA Nations League
- Cristiano Ronaldo charged by FA over incident with Everton fan