Al-Ahly told to forget super semi

Al-Ahly told to forget super semi
Al-Ahly sharpshooter Walid Azaro points the way for his side who face Wydad in the first-leg of the CAF Champions League final in Alexandria tomorrow. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2017

Al-Ahly told to forget super semi

Al-Ahly told to forget super semi

LONDON: Walid Azaro has told his Al-Ahly teammates to put their sublime semifinal victory over Etoile to the back of their minds and focus on ensuring they lift the CAF Champions League trophy against Wydad Casablanca.
The striker scored a hat-trick in the last-four clash against the Tunisian side in a match that underlines why the Egyptian giants head into tomorrow’s first-leg in Alexandria as red-hot favorites. The eight-time champions beat Etoile 6-2 in the second-leg having lost the first 2-1.
It was a devastating performance and one that could easily lead to overconfidence. But Azaro has warned his side to beware of being too bullish.
“We have to forget what we did against Etoile and focus on Wydad, who will be difficult opponents to overcome,” the 22-year-old striker said.
His coach, Hossam El-Badry emphasized that anything less that victory would be considered a disaster for the Egyptian side.
“We aim to win whatever competition we enter,” El-Badry, enjoying a third spell in charge of a club he guided to the 2012 Champions League title, said. “Our supporters are desperate for another Champions League title.”
Al-Ahly have won Africa’s premier club competition (formerly the African Cup of Champions Clubs) three times more than any other club.
But the Cairo Red Devils last lifted the trophy in 2013 when now-retired legend Mohamed Aboutrika scored in a 3-1 aggregate win over South Africa’s Orlando Pirates.
The manner in which the Egyptians eliminated Tunisian clubs Esperance and Etoile in the quarterfinals and semifinals means they are definitely the team to beat.
Held 2-2 at home by Esperance, Al-Ahly went to Tunis and triumphed 2-1 through goals from Tunisian Ali Maaloul and Nigerian Junior Ajayi. Then came the peerless performance against Etoile, one of their finest Champions League performances since debuting 41 years ago.
Azaro, under fire for persistent poor form, repaid the faith El-Badry had showed in him by scoring that memorable hat-trick.
“I wanted to score in every match, but was constantly unlucky,” explained the Morocco-born striker. “I thank coach Hossam for persevering with me.”
Azaro demonstrated his aerial threat against Etoile by twice powering crosses into the net during the first half and completed his treble with an early second-half tap-in.
This weekend marks the third meeting between Al-Ahly and Wydad this year after each won 2-0 at home during the group phase.
Goals from Moamen Zakaria and Ajayi delivered maximum points for Al-Ahly and now-departed Congo Brazzaville sharpshooter Fabrice Ondama and Walid El-Karty were the Wydad scorers.
This year, the Hussein Amotta-coached outfit have been outstanding in Morocco, winning all six matches with goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi conceding just one goal in 540 minutes.
While Azaro tormented Etoile, two-goal Achraf Bencharki was the architect of a 3-1 semifinal triumph over USM Alger of Algeria following a goalless first-leg.