Ahly, Esperance face tough ties

AL Ahly of Egypt hope to get in front while Esperance of Tunisia do not want to fall behind when they face contrasting CAF Champions League semifinals first-leg challenges today.

Record eight-time trophy-holders Ahly host Entente Setif of Algeria, who surprisingly eliminated defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the quarterfinals.

Esperance are away to Primeiro Agosto of Angola, the shock last-eight conquerors of five-time African champions TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Setif and Esperance have won the elite CAF competition twice each, leaving Primeiro as the only survivors not to lift the trophy that symbolises African club supremacy.

No Angolan club has reached the Champions League final and Primeiro are just the second side after Petro Atletico in 2001 to make the penultimate stage.

But Serbian coach Zoran Manojlovic believes the Luanda outfit can go all the way to the title decider, telling AFP: “We will reach the final of the Champions League.

“My players are very humble and very hard workers and we know more or less the strengths and weaknesses of Esperance.”

Ahly first won the competition in 1982 and most recently in 2013 when legend Mohamed Aboutrika retired after scoring in the final against Orlando Pirates of South Africa.

Esperance were African champions in 1994 and 2011 and Setif succeeded in 1988 and 2014, and both clubs regularly compete in continental competitions.

Pundits are predicting an Ahly-Esperance final, but Setif and Primeiro must have developed a lot of confidence from their quarterfinals triumphs. – AFP

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