Goal South Africa highlights six influential players who should prove to be instrumental in determining the winner of the Caf Champions League
Goal South Africa decided to select three of the most influential players from each side ahead of the final, as Al Ahly go in search of an 8th Champions League victory, while Pirates aim for their second triumph.
Pirates’ saviour on countless occasions during their Caf Champions League campaign, Meyiwa is aiming to become one of the best goalkeepers in Africa. The keeper is on the cusp of greatness as he prepares to stand in goal during the final’s two legs.
His inspirational shot-stopping and penalty saves have been one of the major reasons Orlando Pirates will compete in the tournament’s final. The Sea Robbers will count on their goalkeeper to perform heroics once again and Meyiwa will strive to keep a clean sheet intact throughout both legs.
The name resonates throughout the African continent. Aboutrika has become an Egyptian footballing legend through his immense skill and awe-inspiring performances for both club and country. Now, with his retirement from the game on the near horizon, Aboutrika will look to give his fan’s something to celebrate during what has been a desperate time for Egyptian football.
The attacking midfielder’s experience will be a key element in the final, but Aboutrika’s pure hunger to end his career in glory could be what makes him Al Ahly’s trump card.
The much-maligned striker has become one of the Buccaneer’s most important attacking elements during the Caf Champions League. Starting in a lone role upfront, Pirates’ hit-man has scored on two occasions, while his ability to hold up the play and provide telling passes is vital to the Buccaneers’ cause.
Bacela’s impact was there for all to see against Zamalek in the group stages, his goal and assist helping Pirates seal a 4-1 victory at home, easily the striker’s best performance of the tournament. Ably supported by the pace and skill of Daine Klate and Sifiso Myeni, Bacela has faced criticism head on in order to become one of Pirates’ stars during the campaign.
Soliman has been one of the most impressive performers in an Al Ahly shirt during the Caf Champions League, inspiring his side to victories on numerous occasions. His three goals in eight starts during the tournament helped the Egyptian club recover from a poor start to the Group Stages, while his ability to provide incisive passes has seen him create a number of goals.
Soliman will be targeted as Al Ahly’s main threat in the attacking third, but focusing too heavily on the midfielder will merely open spaces for the club’s other dangerous forwards, making the player’s impact on the game even more menacing.
Hard tackling and courageous defending comes naturally to Pirates’ central defender Rooi Mahamutsa. The defender also possesses a powerful header, which came to the fore in the semi-final stage of the tournament, his second half goal against Esperance effectively taking Pirates to the final.
Mahamutsa has withstood the test of fatigue throughout the campaign, becoming the go-to man in defence for the Buccaneer’s, as the likes of Siyabonga Sangweni could not feature due to injury. His role is now more important than ever, as Mahamutsa will be expected to hold off Al Ahly’s wealth of attacking talent during the final.
Ekramy would have watched in horror as Ghana thumped six goals into Egypt’s net during a recent World Cup qualifier, the star keeper substituted due to a thigh injury. Ekramy has been noted as one of the best goalkeepers on the continent and will look to entrench this fact with two solid performances in goal for Al Ahly.
Ekramy is set to start the first leg of the final despite concerns surrounding his fitness, a welcome relief for the Egyptian Giants as they look to keep a clean sheet in South Africa, ahead of their home tie in Cairo.