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Champions League heads for climax

Al Ahly's Mohamed Aboutrika
Aboutrika could be a threat for Al Ahly as they take on Enyimba
Egypt's Al Ahly host Nigeria's Enyimba in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final on Saturday with all eyes on the Nigerians' star striker Stephen Worgu.

The game is evenly poised at 0-0 following the first leg in Nigeria two weeks ago.

The second leg of the other semi-final is in Garoua in Cameroon as Coton Sport look to defend a 1-0 lead against Dynamos of Zimbabwe.

Worgu, who is the top scorer in the this year's competition with 13 goals, has been strongly linked with a move to the Egyptian champions.

Enyimba coach Maurice Cooremans told the BBC before the team departed for Cairo that he has told the player he must focus on the key game.

"I told him that he must keep his two feet on the ground and that he's playing for Enyimba," he said.

"Players think it's easy to go to another team, but...I told him 'you're playing for the moment for Enyimba, when you don't do your best, I put you out of the team'."

Meanwhile Worgu himself believes his team can upset five-time African Champions Ahly and reach the Champions League final.

"The second leg will be more open because Ahly know they must attack to win and I am sure Enyimba will capitalise on that," said the striker.

Worgu was named alongside three Ahly players, Mohamed Aboutrika, Ahmed Hassan and Angola's Flavio on the shortlist for a new Confederation of African Football award for the top Africa-based footballer.

"As usual I believe I will be among the scorers even though I play matches with Enyimba in mind and not myself.

If Coton Sport managed to beat us at home what is stopping us achieving the same feat?

Dynamos coach David Mandigora

"In the first leg we wanted to win by as many as three goals to make the return match a mere formality, but sometimes a football match does not go the way you want it.

"If you watched the game you would have seen that we did our best, but the goals failed to come."

Ahly stars have remained silent in the build-up to the fixture leaving the talking to long-serving Portuguese coach Manuel Jose .

"Drawing in Nigeria was a relatively good result, but the least positive one," warned Jose, casting his mind back to a similar situation last year ahead of the second leg of the final.

Ahly supporters believed a sixth title was in the bag after a goalless draw in Tunisia against Etoile du Sahel, but their heroes suffered a stunning 3-1 home loss.

"Enyimba are a good team with players who perfectly accomplish their tactical duties," he added.

While the Nigerians face an uphill task, 1998 runners-up Dynamos of Zimbabwe have an even tougher task, having lost 1-0 at home to surprise packages Coton Sport of Cameroon.

The 'Harare Glamour Boys' will draw strength from shock away victories this year over defending champions Etoile in Sousse and Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast in Abidjan.

"We lost as a team having failed to take our chances and now we must fight back as a team. If Coton Sport managed to beat us at home what is stopping us achieving the same feat?" asked Dynamos coach David Mandigora.

What could stop a Dynamos team bolstered by the return from injury of goalkeeper Willard Manyatera and midfielders Justice Majabvi and Wonder Sithole, is the outstanding home form of Coton Sport in their northern Garoua base.

Bidding to become the first African Champions League finalists from Cameroon since Canon Yaounde won the 1980 title, Coton Sport won six qualifying and group matches by scoring 14 goals without conceding any.


see also
Champions League statistics
05 Oct 08 |  African


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