Al Wahda face the unenviable task of needing to defeat Africa’s most-successful club, Al Ahly, on home soil without the services of suspended star striker Sebastian Tagliabue if they are to stay alive in the Arab Club Championship.
The Clarets endured a chastening start to the revitalised competition – back after a four-year break – on Saturday. They went down 2-0 to Algeria’s NA Hussein Dey, during an error-strewn match in which UAE playmaker Khalid Bawazir fractured his neck and Tagliabue was dismissed late on for stamping.
Cairo grandees Ahly are up next on Tuesday night. The record 39-time Egyptian Premier League champions are also on the rebound after they were surprisingly beaten 1-0 by Jordan’s Al Faisaly when Group A got under way.
“We know that the confrontation against Ahly will be very difficult because they have the greatest motivation to win the meeting,” said freshly-installed Wahda coach Laurentiu Reghecampf, who will be able to hand a debut to exciting Moroccan forward Mourad Batna.
“I am counting on raising the fitness of my players gradually and we will offer a strong challenge to Ahly. But we lost some players in the first game and these are negative factors.
“I have followed all the matches, but I do not care about the other teams.”
The versatile Batna, a summer signing from FUS Rabat after a successful loan at Emirates Club last term, will look to link-up with Hungary winger Balazs Dzsudzsak. There could be a change between the sticks after goalkeeper Rashed Ali committed egregious errors for both goals against Nasria.
The President’s Cup holders must hope Ahly crack under the pressure of their expectant supporters once again, a factor their general coach Ahmed Ayoub acknowledged.
He said: “We will fight in the remaining two matches in order to make the fans happy and qualify for the semi-finals.”
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