Al-Ahly boosted by El-Sulaya, Gaber and Samir return for Setif clash

Al-Ahly Cairo
Al-Ahly are closer to a record-extending ninth Champions League title and Primiero Agosto could continue to make history

Al-Ahly have received a major boost ahead of Tuesday’s Caf Champions League semi-final, second leg against ES Setif following the return of midfielders Mohamed Gaber and Amr El-Sulaya, as well as defender Saad Samir from injury.

The good news in coach Patrice Carteron’s camp comes as the Egyptians giants arrive in Algeria carrying a 2-0 lead from the first leg won at home.

Egypt international right-back Ahmed Fathy will have to pass a late fitness test although he was included in the squad that travelled to Algeria despite complaining about his knee.

Tuesday's match would be handled by South African referee Victor Gomes and is going to be played on artificial grass.

Al-Ahly assistant coach Mohamed Youssef is unfazed by the playing the match on this turf.

“Ahly have a very long history and we are able to get over such circumstances,” Youssef was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram.

"The team is ready for the game against ES Setif. All the players are fully focused and determined to reach the final."

After landing in Algiers on Sunday, Al-Ahly travelled for four hours by road to reach Setif.

“Our players have experience on how to get over challenges like fatigue and travelling for long distances,” Youssef said.

Overturning a 2-0 deficit could be a mountain too high to climb for ES Setif against an Al-Ahly side that ended last season as runners-up and whose desire for the another continental crown has been proven by ruthless displays so far. 

Managing to kick Al-Ahly out of the tournament by turning the tables on Tuesday, would throw the tournament into one of the most interesting editions in recent years.

Already, the tournament has been spiced up by Primeiro Agosto’s fairytale run in this competition.

The Angolan side meet Esperance away in another semi-final clash leading 1-0 from the first leg which was played at home early this month.

Interestingly, Agosto are the only side in the semi-finals to have never won the Champions League title before.

Reaching the quarter-finals was a big achievement in its own right, but they have now punched above their weight.

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Agosto players dominate the Angola national team squad and goalkeeper Toni has been one of their standout performers in the Champions League so far this season.

At their best, the DR Congolese duo of Mongo Bokamba and Jacques Bitumba could cause all sorts of problems for Esperance especially when being supported by Geraldo.

Missing suspended veteran defender Khalil Chemmam could make Esperance vulnerable at the back when facing a probing Agosto attack.