Football

Wydad and Ahly vying for ACL final spot

Egypt's Al-Ahly and Morocco's Wydad will face off in the semi-final of the African Champions League on Friday.

Wydad and Ahly vying for ACL final spot
AMR ABDALLAH DALSH REUTERS

Following a lengthy halt and several delays, Moroccan club Wydad host Egypt's Al-Ahly in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semi-finals at Mohamed V Stadium, with both teams looking for an African coronation at the end of a tough season.

Both sides go into the game after having changed their respective head coaches just weeks before the clash.

Wydad sacked Juan Carlos Garrido due to poor results and replaced him with the Argentine Miguel Ángel Gamondi. Meanhwhile, Ahly's former coach René Weiler decided to prematurely end his contract with the club, leaving the Egyptian outfit to appoint South Africa's Pitso Mosimane, who won the ACL title with his former team Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.

Since his appointment, Gamondi has overseen eight matches with Wydad, winning five and drawing three. However, this unbeaten streak wasn't enough for Wydad to win the league title, which was decided in the last round with Raja eventually crowned champions.

Al-Ahly, who had already secured the league title weeks ago, have played three games with Mosimane at the helm, in which they have won twice and drawn once.

Both sides have several absentees

The biggest challenge facing Wydad and Al-Ahly for Friday's clash will be the number of absentees. Moroccan press reports have pointed out that Wydad will be missing defender Cheick Comara, who hasn't completely recovered from his injury, Ayoub El Amloud, and Achraf Dari.

Meanwhile, Al-Ahly's list of absentees comprises of Rami Rabea and Mahmoud Metwalli due to injury, Saad Samir and Karim Nedved for technical reasons, while the situation of Mahmoud Kahraba, who picked up a hamstring injury during the team's last game, is yet to be decided.

Head to Head

The two clubs have met in the ACL on eight previous occasions. The first encounter was in the group stage of the 2011 competition when the first leg ended 3-3 and the second leg ended with a 1-1 draw.

The two teams clashed again in the group stage of the 2016 tournament with the first leg in Cairo ending in a draw before Al-Ahly snatched the victory in the return leg in Morocco. The next year both teams met at the group stage for the third time with each team having securing a 2-0 win at home.

The last face-off between Wydad and Al-Ahly was in the final of the 2017 edition, where Wydad won the title after claiming a 1-1 draw in Cairo and 1-0 victory in Morocco.

Al-Ahly is hoping to secure their ninth title, while the Moroccan giants are seeking their third trophy.