Al-Ahly told to be ready for heated battle in Tunisia against Esperance de Tunis in Champions League final

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It was a tense and heated affair in Alexandria last week. Another red-ht atmosphere is expected on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 08 November 2018

Al-Ahly told to be ready for heated battle in Tunisia against Esperance de Tunis in Champions League final

  • Al-Ahly take 3-1 lead into clash as coach Carteron tells team to be prepared for "war".
  • Esperance boss Chaabani wants players to overcome "extreme injustice" of first leg.

LONDON: Al-Ahly may be taking a 3-1 lead into the second leg of the CAF Champions League final against Esperance de Tunis on Friday, but their coach Patrice Carteron has told his team to be prepared for “war” in their bid to win a ninth continental crown.
The first leg in Alexandria last weekend was an extremely feisty and bad-tempered affair that will be remembered for two controversial VAR (video assistant referee) penalties for Al-Ahly — Walid Soliman converted both.
Furious Esperance players and coaches accused the Egyptian side’s striker Walid Azaro of diving to win the first spot-kick and of feigning injury and tearing his shirt for the second.
The Tunisians accused the Algerian referee of bias and the Cairo club of pre-match dirty tricks, including delaying their arrival at the stadium and police harassment.
No CAF Champions League final is a quiet affair, but after the first leg today’s clash is expected to be on the red-hot end of heated. And Carteron has warned his side they cannot take anything for granted despite their two-goal advantage.
“We are fortunate to have many players sufficiently experienced to deal with this kind of match,” the Al-Ahly coach said.
“I hope the team receives special protection and that the Tunisian government ensures we have a football match, and not a war in the stands.”

Walid Azaro is supsended for Friday's do-or-die clash. 

Carteron is only too well aware that Al-Ahly will need to be at their most-levelled best to ensure they lift the trophy tonight. They go into the clash without Azaro, right, who has been banned for two matches following the incident last week. CAF did not elaborate on why the ban had been imposed but it is thought it was because the Moroccan was ultimately shown to have ripped his shirt in the first leg.
While Al-Ahly will rue the loss of the man who has scored six goals in the competition so far, second only to TP Mazembe’s Ben Malango, the sense of grievance — they have appealed the ban — could well drive them to put in the necessary backs-against-the-wall performance in Tunis.
That aim of righting some wrongs will definitely be a motivating factor for Esperance. Their coach Moine Chaabani is still smarting from what he sees as the injustices of the first leg. But Chaabani, promoted when Khaled Ben Yahia was fired after a first-leg loss to Primeiro in the semifinals, is confident his side can win the Champions League for the third time.
“We can recover from 3-1 behind — there is still hope. A key issue is keeping my players focused on football with so much else going on,” he said.
Chaabani is angry at the losses of center-back Dhaouadi and Cameroonian midfield enforcer Kom, whose second yellow cards of the competition triggered automatic one-match suspensions.
“Dhaouadi was booked for no reason, so was Kom. It is as if they were targeted (by the referee) from the get go.
“I am livid at what happened in Alexandria, but have to keep it together for the sake of the team. We were subjected to an extreme injustice.”

England celebrate World Cup triumph with young fans

Updated 15 July 2019

England celebrate World Cup triumph with young fans

  • After 44 years of trying, England became world champions with a stunning victory over New Zealand

LONDON: England revelled in their first World Cup triumph on Monday, soaking up the adulation of a disbelieving nation after one of the most extraordinary finishes to a cricket match in history.

The host country, after 44 years of trying, finally became world champions with a stunning victory over New Zealand at Lord’s, triumphing on superior boundary count after both the match and the additional Super Over shootout ended with the scores level.

The game was watched by the biggest audience in a generation, with around 30,000 packed into Lord’s, thousands congregating in front of a big screen in Trafalgar Square in central London and the first free-to-air terrestrial coverage in 14 years.

Hundreds of children flooded across the outfield at the Oval — across town from Lord’s — to help Eoin Morgan’s men celebrate their historic triumph. The south London ground was where England launched their World Cup campaign with a victory over South Africa way back on May 30.

Many of the young children at the Oval were wearing the kit of the All Stars junior program run by the England and Wales Cricket Board and others were dressed in their school uniforms.

As “Happy” by Pharrell Williams blared out, the youngsters were delighted to catch sight of England stars such as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer and flocked toward their new heroes.

It was a more modest celebration than the open-topped bus parade through the streets of London for England’s 2005 Ashes victors but was in keeping with the push to sell the game to a new generation.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet but coming down here and seeing what a small portion of the support we’ve had feels about it, the kids, the adults, the energy they all had for what they saw yesterday is amazing,” said man-of-the-match Stokes.

England coach Trevor Bayliss, drafted in with the aim of winning the World Cup following their miserable first-round exit at the 2015 tournament, said: “I heard some of the young guys in the team say the 2005 Ashes inspired them to bigger and better things.

“I think they are very proud they’ve been put in a position where they can hopefully inspire a few of the next generation.”

On Sunday the Queen sent her congratulations to England and the Royal Mail postal service announced it would issue a series of special stamps and decorate 15 post boxes to celebrate both the World Cup win and England’s victory at the 2017 Women’s edition of the tournament.

Prime Minister May, a lifelong cricket fan, was due to host the team at a reception.

“Yesterday (Sunday) was a brilliant performance by a brilliant team,” said May. “They showed flair, courage and an absolute determination to become world champions.

“The achievement, delivered in such a thrilling style on home soil, will live forever in our sporting history.”

“It’s also exciting to think just how many children will be inspired by this victory to pick up a bat for the first time and hopefully become the great cricketers and World Cup winners of tomorrow,” she added.

“We must build on this success.”