When they walk onto the pitch of the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, Morocco tomorrow night, the players of Al Ahly will be armed with such intelligence on their opponents Kaizer Chiefs you would swear they have played them on numerous occasions.
Ali Maaloul will know only too well not to allow Yagan Sasman the opportunity to deliver a cross from the wing. Badr Banoun will stick to Samir Nurkovic like a rash, hardly allowing the big Chiefs striker any opportunities on the loose ball.
Giving away set pieces in the danger area will be avoided at all cost lest the likes of Erick Mathoho get the opportunity to slot in the aerial ball.
Up front, Mohamed Sherif and Mohamed Magdy are sure to know exactly what to do to get the better of Siyabonga Ngezana and Daniel Cardoso. It is the Pitso Mosimane way – know everything about the opposition so as to punish them. Even though he would not have had as much time as Chiefs to prepare for this clash given that Ahly are still involved in domestic competition, Mosimane would have ensured his players know all there is to know about Amakhosi.
The Red Devils would have spent a significant time poring over videos of Chiefs’ recent matches and each and every member of the team would have been given homework on his adversary and required to give feedback as to how he will get the better of him.
It is a system that has worked for Jingles over the years and he is sure to be putting his trust in it as he approaches tomorrow night’s match – an encounter that could see him become Africa’s joint most-decorated coach with Tunisian Faouzi Benzarti on five continental titles.
That he will be aiming to hold on to the Champions League title he won last year as well as increase Al Ahly’s record triumphs in the continent’s premier club knockout cup competition would have inspired Mosimane to turn his players into some sort of Chiefs experts.
Last week, when he looked ahead to the match in a virtual press conference with members of the South African Football Journalists’ Association (SAFJA), Jingles showed off his knowledge of Amakhosi as he spoke of their midfield’s rigidity, Bernard Parker’s impressive work-rate and the club’s tenacity and overall ability to survive onslaughts from the opposition. He would have taken all those factors into consideration as he prepared the reigning champions for this weekend’s clash, ensuring that all of Chiefs’ strengths are nullified while putting in place a plan for Ahly to overpower Chiefs.
Though a big fan of delightful flowing football, Mosimane has long learnt that there’s no room for comments in the result column and has mastered the art of achieving a win in any way possible. He has acknowledged that at Ahly, he does not have ball players in the mould of a Themba Zwane or Gaston Sirino and will thus definitely use the strength of his players.
Al Ahly (4-3-3): El Shenawy; Akram Tawfik, Badr Banoun (MAR), Ayman Ashraf, Ali Maaloul (TUN); Amr al Sulaya, Aliou Dieng (MLI), Hamdy Fathy; Taher Mohamed, Mohamed Sherif, Mohamed Magdy
Kaizer Chiefs (3-4-3): Daniel Akpeyi (NGR); Siyabonga Ngezana, Eric Mathoho, Daniel Cardoso; Reeve Frosler, Njabulo Blom, Willard Katsande (ZIM), Yagan Sasman; Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Samir Nurkovic (SRB), Bernard Parker Captain: Mohamed el Shenawy Coach: Pitso Mosimane (RSA)