It can barely get better than this. Al Hilal and Al Ahly will be facing off in a winner-takes-all match for a CAF Champions League quarterfinal place. Is a shock on the cards? Read our preview to find out. The match is on 1st February, 2020 from 9pm CAT in Omdurman.
Al Hilal Probable XI: Salim – Al Samwal, Omer, Abdellatif – El Tahir, Darag, Esam, Saleem – Mokhtar – Mohsin, Hamid (3-4-1-2)
Al Ahly Probable XI: El Shenawy – Fathi, Rabia, Yasser, Maaloul – Dieng, Sulaya – El Shahat, Afsha, Ajayi – Mohsen (4-2-3-1)
What is at stake?
There is a chance for both teams to advance to the quarterfinal. They will have to play a draw and have Etoile Sahel lose at home to Platinum FC. But it is better to have your fate in your own hands. This is a privilege that Al Hilal and Al Ahly will have when they play in Omdurman. The winner will progress to the last eight.
For Ahly, even a draw will do. They lead the group with 10 points, one ahead of Al Hilal and Etoile Sahel.
It is not beyond the realm of possibilities though that the Egyptians go into the final group match top of the group but end the match-day knocked out of the competition. The Cairo team are remarkably poor travelers. And to add insult to injury, the last time they played away to Al Hilal in the CAFCL they lost 3-0. This was in 2007, back when Ahly was really good.
What will the match be like?
The hosts were forced to bring in a new coach. Sedki left for Egypt and Al Fatih took his place. The new coach has not shown hesitation in imprinting his ideas. He won his first CAFCL outing, against Platinum, and fielded an intriguing 3-4-1-2 system. This is a change from the 4-3-3 variants that they have been using in the tournament.
We are not fans of 3-at-the-back formations. It is also very likely a bad time to disrupt the team in this manner. Al Fatih has been moving the usual starters into unfamiliar combinations.
Al Ahly are far more stable but are also experiencing lineup changes. The big one is Aliou Badji (pun intended). The striker got a feel of the CAFCL last time out but is unlikely to play a greater role for this match. Rene Weiler will, in fact, be tempted to field the exact team that beat Etoile but introduction of Magdy Afsha won’t be such a bad idea.
Al Ahly will dominate the play as they have done in each of their matches this season. Al Hilal will take advantage of this by attempting to punish them on transitions. Playing at home will help them pull off attacking moves that Etoile Sahel lacked composure to do.
Al Hilal 1-2 Al Ahly
Al Hilal are formidable at home. Al Ahly are the opposite of that away from home. The straightforward reading should be a shock result that ousts Ahly. Unfortunately, the Sudanese side are disrupting their flow too much a little too late. In contrast, Al Ahly are finding their rythm with knockouts on the horizon. Expect the Egyptians to deliver their best result of the competition.