Al Ahly captain Mohamed El Shenawy was rather bullish about their chances of securing a first win in South Africa and was not shy to suggest they are at a disadvantage by Mamelodi Sundowns’ decisions.
Ahly has never won a CAF Champions League or Confederation Cup game on South African soil in their history and a win is needed to go equal on seven points before the final two Group B games.
He suggested that luck was perhaps not on their side in previous encounters, with one of the most memorable encounters in Sundowns history being that infamous 5-0 win at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in 2019.
“I know we played here many times before but perhaps the circumstances… and the weather [affected us], but what I’m sure about is tomorrow we will fight to win the game, and that perhaps will be the first time we win against Sundowns,” he said in the pre-match press conference.
He went on to criticise the decision for Sundowns to play in the blistering heat in the afternoon, but it’s important to note that all clubs will use whatever advantage they can get in home games in Africa’s elite club competition.
Ahly, who come from winter in North Africa, often opt for late kickoffs in their league and continental competitions as they generally perform at a high level during lower temperatures in the evening.
“It’s not a matter of a psychological problem but it’s obvious in the whole world and competitions like the Champions League, nobody plays at 15h00, and all over the world in high-level competitions, they are playing [later] in the afternoon [or evening], but it’s not something that’s going to affect us,” he said.
“We are going to fight tomorrow, we are well prepared to win the game tomorrow, I know Sundowns is trying their best to win… they are choosing a pitch we hardly played on before, they are choosing to play at 15h00, okay that’s their right but we’re prepared for the game tomorrow and aiming to secure the first win here [in South Africa].”
The Red Devils face off against Masandawana at Loftus Versveld on Saturday afternoon (15h00).