Between the 2018 and 2024 finals against Esperance…what changed in Al-Ahly?

The Egyptian Al-Ahly club is preparing to face its counterpart Esperance Sports Club of Tunisiain the final of the African Champions League for the current season 2023-24, where the “Red Giant” will be a guest of the Blood and Gold team, in the first leg of the final. African Champions LeagueOn Saturday, May 18, at the Hamadi Al-Aqrabi Stadium in Rades, Tunisia, before the two teams face off in the return leg at the Cairo International Stadium, on the 25th of the same month.

It is a match called the “African Clasico” between two teams among the most successful, strongest and oldest in the African continent. A confrontation that has been repeated many times, especially during the current century, and will be repeated in the final of the same tournament for the third time in the last 12 years only.

The Champions League final brought together Al-Ahly and Esperance in the 2012 edition, and then the “Red Giant” won outside its home in Tunisia to achieve the continental title. As for the 2018 edition, “Al-Makshakha” Primontada returned in Rades to win the title, and what is constant in these two finals is that the return match was outside Cairo. Unlike the next final, which may represent an advantage for the “Red Castle”.

So the next final is to confirm the advantage of one party over the other in the continental final, but what has changed in Al-Ahly compared to the final of the 2018 edition?

A successful and stable Swiss coach

The first difference is in the identity of the team’s coach. In the 2018 edition, the Frenchman Patrice Carteron was in that position. At that time, the coach had only continued in his position for less than 5 months with only 21 matches, and then he left his position.

On the contrary, Swiss Marcel Kohler is successfully leading the “Red Devils” ship. Since his appointment on September 9, 2022, the former German coach of Cologne has led his team in 99 matches in various competitions and was able to lead the team to win the African Champions League and the Egyptian League and two Egyptian Cup titles. And 3 in the Egyptian Super Cup, and he experiences a great state of stability with the team thanks to the positive results and his excellent relationship with the players.

Who is left in Al-Ahly from the 2018 team?

Looking at the “Genie” lists for the 2018 and 2024 editions, we find that there are only 5 current players who were present with the Egyptian team less than 6 years ago in the 2018 edition final, as Al-Ahly’s roster between the home and away matches was known for the presence of Mohamed El-Shenawy, Amr El-Soulia, Mohamed Hani, and Akram. Tawfiq and Karim Nedved, while Tunisian Ali Maaloul was absent at the time due to injury, and Rami Rabia was with the team but was also off the African injury list.

Tunisian Ali Maaloul, left back for the Egyptian Al-Ahly team (Getty)

As for this year’s edition, Maaloul will replace his teammate Al-Soulia, who will miss the final due to injury. The team’s roster also includes El-Shenawy, Akram Tawfiq, Karim Nedved, and Mohamed Hani, in addition to Rami Rabia.

3 African titles

In the 2018 CAF Champions League final, Al-Ahly Club had 8 titles in the African Championship, and since then, the team has succeeded in achieving the titles of the 2020, 2021, and 2023 editions, adding 3 championships to its coffers, bringing the number of its championships in this competition to 11 titles.

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