An Arab confrontation between Al-Ahly and Al-Wefaq Wydad challenges Petro Atletico to go to the Champions League semifinals

Cairo: With the start of the final phase of the African Champions League, the hopes of the Arab fans to get on the podium too questyear, after the title remained the prerogative of club of the Arab world during the last five editions. Tomorrow, Saturday, the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals begins, where Al-Ahly will meet his Algerian host, ES Setif, while the Moroccan Wydad Casablanca will face his Angolan host Petro Atlético. 3 teams have already held the championship cup, overtaken by Al-Ahly, holder of the title in the last two editions and holder of the record by number of tournament wins with 10 titles, plus ES Setif, the title winner In 1988 and 2014 Wydad Casablanca, who won the championship in 1992 and 2017, while Petro Atlético is the only one still looking for his first title in continental competition. The spotlight will be on the purely Arab confrontation between Al-Ahly and Al-Wefaq, who face each other for the third time in the semi-finals of the tournament, where the first confrontation between them took place in the competition version in 1988, during which each team victory is exchanged in home 2-0, judging by the penalties that smiled in the final. The end was in the interest of the Algerian team, who were then relegated in second division in the local league. As for the second match, it was in the 2018 edition, where Al-Ahly won 2/0 in the first leg in Egypt, before Al-Wefaq beat his Egyptian rival 2/1 in the return in Algeria, but it was not enough to reach the round the final. Al-Ahly and ES Setif had faced each other in earlier in the 2015 Super Africa match, which Al-Wefaq decided in his favor, with penalties, after the two teams drew 1/1 at the stadium (Mustafa Chaker) in the Algerian city of Blida. During Al-Ahly’s journey to qualify for the Champions League semi-finals for the eighteenth time in its history and the fifth in the last six seasons, consolidating the record from club more numerous to climb the gold square, the red team was in second place in the ranking of the first round of the group stage, which included South African Mamelodi Sundowns, Al-Hilal and Al-Marreikh, the Sudanese, who scored 10 points after getting 3 wins, one draw and two defeats. Al-Ahly overcame Moroccan Raja Casablanca’s hurdle in the quarter-finals, winning 2/1 in the first leg in Cairo, before drawing him 1/1 in the return match at the (Mohammed V) stadium in Casablanca last month. He qualified for the ES Setif semifinals instead, after finishing second in the second round standings, which included Raja Casablanca, Amazulu of South Africa and Houria Conakry of Guinea, with 9 points, scoring the lowest score of any team that qualified for the playoffs. of the tournament. Al-Wefaq scored 3 wins, losing 3 games, as the teams that qualified for the knockout stage were the most defeated, but he quickly drew the spotlight on him in the quarter-finals, after ousting Tunisian Esperance, the four-time champion, from the competition, after a goalless draw in Algeria and 1-0 return to stadium win (Hammadi Al-Aqrabi) in Tunisia. Al-Ahly and Al-Wefaq are not doing well in their respective local leagues in this season, as the Egyptian team’s results have seen a steep decline in the last period, having scored just two points in their last three games, and had been close to losing to Ceramica Cleopatra in their last local match to draw with him. 1/1 in his spare time, which caused great concern to his fans before the upcoming African confrontation, knowing that the team is currently in second place in the Egyptian League standings, 8 points behind its traditional rival, Zamalek (leader), with 3 postponed games. As for Al-Wefaq, he is currently in eighth place in the Algerian standings and his hopes appear to have greatly diminished in winning the title during the season. in course, in light of his 12 points behind Chebab Belouizdad (leader) before the two teams have played the last ten games of the competition. Al-Ahly is counting on the experience of his South African coach Pitso Mosimane, who has led the team to win the title over the past two years, as well as winning the championship with his former Sun Downs team in 2016. The red team also has a group of stars in various lines such as South African winger Percy Tau and Tunisian left-back Ali Ali Maaloul and Malian midfielder Aliou Diang, as well as national team goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawy, playmaker Mohamed Magdy Afsha, Amr Al-Soliya, Hamdi Fathi, the striker Mohamed Sharif and young player Ahmed Abdel Qader. For his part, ES Setif, who is trying to get his third victory in away in his league campaign in this season, it includes a number of elements who also have enough experience to tackle such big dates, led by the star veteran Abdelmoumen Djabo, who scored the goal of qualifying the Algerian team to the Golden Square in the networks of Esperance, in addition to Akram Djahnit, Amir Qarawi, Hisham Belkaroui and Ahmed Kandoussi. Al-Wefaq, who signed a contract last month with Serbian manager Darko Novic, also has a giant goalkeeper, Sofian Khadayriya, who has also played a leading role in the team’s rise to this role thanks to his legendary save in the first game and in the second leg against Esperance. As for Wydad, they are facing a tough confrontation with Petro Atlético, in a renewed meeting between them, after having already met in this season during the group stage, where they were in the fourth group, which also included the Egyptian Zamalek and the Angolan Sagrada Esperanca. Petro Atlético beat Wydad 2-1 in the first match which took place between them in the Angolan capital Luanda, before the Moroccan team avenged that defeat by scoring a landslide 5-1 victory over Angolan rival, which was the result greatest during the group stage. The two teams went through the playoffs together two rounds before the end of the group stage, where Wydad was in leads the standings with 15 points, after scoring 5 wins and 1 loss, 4 points clear of his closest rivals, Petro Atlético, who have scored 3 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. Wydad moved on to the semi-finals, having overcome the hurdle of Algerian Chebab Belouizdad in the quarter-finals, where they won 1-0 in the first leg in Algeria, before winning a negative draw with the taste of victory in the second leg, which took place in his stadium. As for Petro Atlético, they qualified for the semifinals after detonating a big-caliber surprise, after toppling Sun Downs, who was the first candidate to win the title questyear, winning 2/1 in the first leg in Angola, before breaking even with him 1/1 in match return, to be relaunched by the opponent The South African, who denied him access to the final when the Angolan team showed up for the first time in semi-final of the tournament in competition version in 2001. The two teams also faced each other in Champions League during the group stage in the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 seasons, during which Wydad won 3, against a single draw. Wydad misses during the match their Libyan star Moayed Al-Lafi, who suffered a knee injury recently, but the battalion of national team manager Walid Rakraki includes a number of other efficient elements, such as Ayman Al-Hassouni, Yahya Jubran, Zuhair Al-Mutarji, Badi ‘Awok, Yahya Attia Allah and the Congolese Gee Menza. Wydad depends on the strength of its offensive line, which has scored 16 goals in eight games, starting from the group stage, to become the team that scored the most goals among the four teams that qualified for the semi-finals. Suspending Brazilian Thiago Azulao will be an important request for Wydad during the match, especially in light of the brilliance of the Angolan striker, who is the top scorer of the tournament so far. in this season with 7 goals. The two teams are having a good season locally too, each of which is in head to the championship of their country: Wydad are 3 points clear of their most direct rivals, their traditional rival, the Raja, while Petro Atlético is in the ranking of the Angolan championship leads the table by 8 points on its closest rivals, with 4 games postponed. Interestingly, the return leg of the semi-finals will take place on May 13 and 14. (Dpa)