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Egypt's Ahly focusing on Zamalek ACL tie
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 09 - 07 - 2012

CAIRO - Hossam el-Badri, Al-Ahly technical coach, expressed his satisfaction with his players after their 2-1 win over TP Mazembe of DR Congo in the group stage of the African Champions League (ACL) in Cairo, urging the players not to let it go to their heads and to concentrate hard on the Zamalek game in the same tournament later this month.
"I have full confidence in the lads' abilities and their experience to snatch all three points, something vital for us at the start of the ACL group stage," el-Badri told Al-Ahly TV channel after the Mazembe game, played in Cairo at the Military Academy Stadium, behind closed doors.
El-Badri, 52, has given the players a two-day break, while tomorrow they will resume their preparations for the Zamalek match on July 22 at the ACL group stage, coinciding with the third day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Ahly, six-time ACL winners, have been drawn in Group B with arch-rivals Zamalek, as well as Bechem Chelsea of Ghana and TP Mazembe of DR Congo.
The Red Devils beat TP Mazembe 2-1, thanks to a goal from striker Emad Mete'b in the 11th minute and a late goal from striker Mohamed Naggi 'Geddo' in the 91st minute.
The victory pushes the Red Devils to the top of Group B with three points, level with Ghana's Chelsea, who beat Zamalek 3-2 in Accra on Saturday.
The match was the first official game for the Red Devils under el-Badri, in the wake of Manuel José da Silva's departure from Ahly after an 18-month stint, because sports activities have been suspended in the country since last February.
El-Badri was responsible for the team from 2009 to late 2010, leading Ahly to 2009-2010 Egyptian Premier League and 2010 Egypt Super Cup glory. He has signed a contract for two seasons, starting from 2012-2013.
"The road is still long and we've only cleared the first hurdle. We still have a lot to do to win the ACL title," he explained.
"We faced a respectable team in extremely difficult circumstances," he told a press conference after the match.
"Everyone knows that sports activities in Egypt have been suspended for five months, while TP Mazembe play regularly in their league, which meant that they were match-fit and well prepared."
The cancellation of the 2011-12 Premier League season, the Martyrs' Cup and the Egypt Cup have made everything more difficult for Egyptian coaches anxious to keep their players in top form.
On February 1 in the coastal town of Port Said, an Egyptian Premier League match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly turned violent, claiming the lives of at least 74 Ahly fans and injuring around 1,000 spectators.
Al-Ahly Ultra groups threatened to cause trouble in the stadiums if the tournament and the Egypt Cup were to go ahead before the perpetrators of the Port Said massacre were punished.
As a result, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) cancelled the Premier League 2011-12 season in early March, as well as the Martyrs' Cup and Egypt Cup.
"We deserved to win as we were hungry for victory," el-Badri continued. "I think that the changes we made were good for the team. We left out Mohamed Abu Treika, because he was injured.
“The team have played with the same tactics before and I don't intend to change this," said the technical manager, in response to a question about the 4-4-2 formation tactic he played.
He told the players before the game to snatch an early goal, so they could then relax and enjoy the match.
“The win is a good boost for us at the group stage," el-Badri explained, stressing that TP Mazembe are a good team with very talented players. “We respect them highly."

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