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Al-Ahly face Tunisia's Bizertin in CAF CL
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 08 - 04 - 2013

CAIRO - Al-Ahly technical coach Hossam el-Badri said that he is delighted that the team have qualified for the round 16 in the African Champions League (ACL) after beating Kenya's Tusker FC Club, but admitted his team did not play very well in the first half of the encounter.
Al-Ahly, six-time ACL winners, will now face Tunisia's CA Bizertin, who qualified after seeing off Zimbabwe's Dynamos 3-1 on aggregate.
"The team that played against Tusker were far from their usual standard. They scored twice in the first half, but then faded, although the players did regain their focus in the second half," el-Badri said at the press conference that followed the game.
The Red Devils defeated Tusker FC Club of Kenya 2-0 in the return leg, held at Borg el-Arab Stadium in Alexandria, thanks to goals from strikers Ahmed Abdel-Zaher and Emad Mete'b.
The Cairo giants qualified 4-1 on aggregate after they also grabbed a 2-1 victory in Nairobi last month, thanks to striker Emad Mete'b, who scored two second-half goals.
"The result from the first leg was comfortable, which meant the lads weren't under any pressure for the return leg," el-Badri, 52, who was responsible for the team from 2009 to late 2010, explained.
Ultras Ahlawy, a group of hardcore Ahly fans, returned to support the team for the first time since the tragedy in Port Said in February 2012, in which 72 of Al-Ahly supporters, were martyred.
El-Badri stressed that it was definitely something important and positive for the team ‘to have the fans back' after a long absence.
The fans had been banned from attending matches due to security concerns. However, the club have received the approval of security officials to increase the number of fans attending the ACL match from 1,000 to 3,000.
El-Badri praised the return of left-winger Sayed Moa'wad and hinted that this came after he felt that they'd clinched all three points, which meant the coach could put his player on the park to check out his match fitness.
"The round 32 is over and we will begin to focus on the CA Bizertin match," stressed el-Badri.
Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafeez also stressed the value of having the team's fans for the Tuskers match, especially after such a long absence, underlining their role in all Ahly victories.
"The first matches in the African Champions League rounds are harder than the group stage, as the team had to do well to qualify," said Abdel-Hafeez, adding that the group stage is different, because the team can compensate by amassing points.
Bizertin's coach Kbaier Mondher said that his side will prepare carefully for the Ahly encounter, adding that he was hoping to avoid an Ahly showdown in this round, but his wish did not materialise.
"I had hoped not to face Egypt's Al-Ahly in the next round, but we will do our best for this important game," Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted Mondher as saying.
He explained that Bizertin is now one of the largest clubs in Tunisia and indeed the whole of Africa, especially as they were able to see off a strong team like Dynamos.
"We have the courage of the players and their spirit to thank for this. We must look to the future and continue to work hard, in order to progress in the classy African tournament," Mondher added.
Bizertin, who have previously participated once in the African Champions League, in 1985, granted Tunisia its first continental title when the club grabbed African Clubs Cups Championship in 1988.

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