There is much expectation both in Cairo and Tunis a few hours to the North African duel between Esperance Sportive and Al Ahly, whose target will be a ticket to the finals of the Orange Champions League. Ahly won the first leg in Cairo 2-1.
Esperance, which hopes to present a complete team including their striker Wajdi Bouazzi who missed the first game due to groin injury, had scheduled its last three training sessions out of public view. Ahly have also closed the door to the public, a move which shows both teams intention not to reveal their game plan before the much awaited encounter.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Faouzi Benzarti, coach of the red and gold insisted on the need for concentration at all times but without dismissing the overwhelming pressure on the team.
"There are so many parameters that we cannot control in this kind of do or die encounters. But we are confident," said the coach who had led the same Esperance in 1994 to win its only trophy in the former African Clubs Champions Cup.
On his part, President of Esperance promised to reserve a warm welcome to their guest, Ahly. "I myself will be at the airport on Thursday to welcome the Egyptian delegation. Whether we win or lose, I will throw a dinner. We must exonerate ourselves from the harm caused to Cairo by some of our supporters. Moreover, Al Ahly fans will gain free access to the Rades stadium on Sunday, "promised Mr. Meddeb.
These actions demonstrate the commitment by both sides to place the match under the sign of friendship in order to bury the sad memory of the violence of the first round on October 3, in the tribunes reserved for 5000 Tunisian fans.
Al Ahly arrived in Tunis on Thursday at noon amidst worries about the health of some of its players. If the scorer of the last 2010 ACN, Mohamed Nagy Gedo is fielded, it may not the same for Moawadh Sayed, Hossam Ghali (suffering from ankle and knee injury) , Mohammed Shawki, Osama Hosni and Francis Doe of Liberia, who was very spirited in their slim victory at the Cairo Stadium.
The boys of Hossam Al Badri won two local friendlies with a double from Gedo, who showed that he is ready for the task ahead.