SA fans will cheer Al Ahly… this time

No doubt South African lovers of the beautiful game will show a keen interest in the outcome of the CAF Champions League final match between north African football powerhouses when Egyptian giants Al Ahly take on Moroccan titans Wydad Athletic Club tomorrow night.

When all is said and done, it is pertinent to note that the build-up to this huge clash has been dogged by controversy regarding the match venue. What with African football’s controlling body CAF scheduling the final at Wyad’s home ground, the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca at 9pm SA time.

CAF’s organisers have repeatedly stated their hands were always going to be tied after Senegal, which was the only other country that had fulfilled the hosting requirements, withdrew their bid, leaving Morocco as the sole candidate. The decision has caused so much acrimony and consternation among the Egyptians because the Mohammed V Stadium is not a neutral venue and gives their opponents home |
advantage, leaving Al Ahly with no choice but to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

But CAS rejected the appeal, dealing Al Ahly a heavy blow.

The venue will be swarmed by the vocal and laser-flashing Moroccan fans and there will be only a handful of Red Devil diehards travelling from Egypt.

Also despondent about CAF’s decision is its very own South African head honcho, Patrice Motsepe, who is one of those regretting that Casablanca in Morocco was eventually chosen as the venue.

It is a clash that is eagerly awaited not only in Mzansi but on the continent, and perhaps in other parts of the world that have some affinity for African football.

Now, Al Aly’s South African coach Pitso Mosimane, a man who has come to be one of the most decorated club coaches on the continent since joining the Red Devils, is known for sulking and brooding if things do not go his way.

This is one of those moments where Mosimane will have all the excuses in the world if he loses and forget the venue row if he wins.

The final has a South African flavour in more ways than one. There is also Bafana Bafana star forward Percy Tau in the mix of the star-studded Al Ahly side gunning for their third successive African inter-club championship title under Mosimane.

Top striker Tau, whose prowess and knack for goals saw him score twice and provide two assists against ES Setif on their way to resounding 4-0 victory in the first leg of the semifinals in Cairo, will have his Mzansi fans on the edge of their seats.

It is a given that local football fans’ eyes will be on Mosimane and Tau, but most significantly we will bury the hatchet by supporting Al Ahly, a team we loath when they face our Mighty Masandawana.

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