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Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 10:14 UK

Al Ahly on brink of elimination from Champions League

Fans of Libyan side Al Ittihad
Libya's Al Ittihad celebrated a 2-0 win over Egypt's Al Ahly in the first leg

Al Ahly of Egypt must overcome a 2-0 deficit at home to Al Ittihad of Libya this weekend to avoid being knocked out of the African Champions League.

Defeat would mean Al Ahly, who are six-time African champions, missing out on playing in the group stages for the second successive year.

Last year they lost in the final knockout round on away goals after two draws against Kano Pillars of Nigeria.

The Cairo giants struggled to make any impact in the first leg of this tie.

Ahly were especially weak in defence in the first game, allowing Ittihad defender Younes Al Chibani and striker Ahmed Zuway to score two vital goals.

The Libyans are hoping to improve on a best showing of losing narrowly to Ahly in the semi-finals of the Champions League three years ago.

Ahly coach Hossam Al Badry is confident ahead of the Cairo Stadium showdown.

"Nothing is impossible for Ahly and the second leg is what really matters, with our supporters capable of playing a major role," Al Badry said.

His optimism is echoed by veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who captained Egypt to a record third consecutive African Nations Cup title in Angola last January.

"It is not a difficult job as we put in a good first-leg performance only to lose," he said.

"We spurned seven or eight scoring chances while Ittihad managed to convert the couple of opportunities they got."

Al Ittihad's Serbian coach Miodrag Jesic believes a natural inclination to defend in the Egyptian capital may backfire on Ittihad, whose earlier away games produced a win in the Central African Republic and a draw in Morocco.

"If my team play defensively we might well bow out," he warned.

"We have a very difficult task because our opponents are experienced, powerful and capable of overturning the deficit."

Egypt's other contenders, Ismaili who are also former champions, appear to have a much easier task after establishing a 1-0 away lead over Al Hilal of Sudan via a Mohamed Homos header.

The second Sudanese challengers Al Merreikh are also struggling, despite home advantage in Omdurman, after a 3-0 loss to 1994 champions Esperance in Tunisia.

JS Kabylie and Entente Setif of Algeria are also former title holders and take first-leg advantages to southern Africa for clashes against Petro Atletico of Angola and Zanaco of Zambia respectively.

Kabylie lead 2-0 and should survive their Luanda examination, but Setif must hope a missed penalty in a 1-0 victory will not come back to haunt them against Zanaco.

Defending champions TP Mazembe of the DR Congo are set to advance having built a 1-0 away lead over Djoliba of Mali.

Once again Mazembe will play in the Congolese capital Kinshasa as their stadium in Lubumbashi continues to undergo renovations.

Dynamos of Zimbabwe are favoured due to a 4-1 home win over Gaborone United of Botswana.

Heartland of Nigeria, runners-up on away goals to Mazembe in the 2009 final, should progress after forcing a 1-1 draw in South Africa against injury-weakened SuperSport United.

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see also
Al Ahly seal Egypt league title
30 Apr 10 |  African
Dynamos on course for group phase
25 Apr 10 |  African
Mazembe advance in Champs Lge
03 Apr 10 |  African
Mazembe suffer Champions Lge loss
20 Mar 10 |  African

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