Caf Champions League

Tuesday (today), 4pm

KCCA Vs Al Ahly (Egypt)

Charges: Shs10,000 (Ordinary), 20,000 (VIP), 50,000 (VVIP)

By West Denis

No African team doesn’t tremble at the prospect of playing eight-time Caf Champions League winners, Al Ahly.

The Egyptian giants are already in KCCA’s backyard ready to unleash damage this afternoon at Namboole as they seek to reawaken their chances after the opening 0-0 draw with two-time winners Esperance in Alexandria a fortnight ago. Mike Mutebi’s team that lost 1-0 to Township Rollers in Botswana on the same night, need more than prayers to spring a surprise.

The disparities between KCCA and Al Ah Alhly are countless but look at only these two – the Egyptian side is valued at $26m whereas KCCA that boosts of a kiosk-like stadium has an annual budget of just Shs4bn.

KCCA has less than 1000 registered supporters while Al Ahly commands over 1000000 registered fans and about 4500000 unregistered fans worldwide.

That gulf in class has not frightened Mutebi for a second – at least verbally.

“For us it’s a privilege to play against the best club in Africa. It’s the only way to gauge our progress,” he told the media at the last press briefing on Monday at Namboole.

“We respect Al Ahly as a dominant force and for all they’ve achieved. But as an emerging force we have the desire to play against the best. We have the youngest team on the continent with the average age of 21 and we have given these boys responsibility,” Mutebi stressed before adding.

“What I can assure you is that we shall go and play our way.  I don’t mind if we won 4-3 but what we want is to play good, entertaining football and both sides are capable of that.”

The manager’s statements point to an attacking approach against Hossam El Badry’s  Al Ahly side that has six world cup bound players and laden with the experience of Ahmed Fathi, Hossam Ashour, Ahmed Hamoudi, Amr El-Sulaya, Walid Soliman, Islam Mohareb, Mahlambi, Mido Gaber, Ahmed Hamdi, Salah Mohsen and Marwan Mohsen.

Mutebi can go for a counter-attacking option and hope lone ranger Muhammad Shaban leads the line with midfielders Julius Poloto, Allan Okello and Jackson Nunda fetching the balls for him.

Deep lying midfielders Sadam Juma (if chosen ahead of Lawrence Bukenya) and Isaac Kirabira should be offering cover to the defence that is likely to be busier today.

With Salah Mohsen and Marwan Mohsen spearheading the visitor’s attack, like they do for Egypt, the backline of Timothy Awany, Habib Kavuma, Mustafa Kizza and Filbert Obenchan and returning goalkeeper Charles Lukwago must be at the best to shut them out.

Ground work done

Badri knows how deadly KCCA can offer after watching them in the 1-0 loss to Rollers and watching Uganda surprise Egypt 1-0 at Namboole recently.

“After the Rollers game, I also watched Uganda National team against Egypt (1-0 in Kampala) and have to say Uganda and KCCA football has improved. But our main target is to win because we drew our first match (goalless against Esperance),” the former Egyptian defender revealed.

“I hope for me and my players to have luck with officiating because in the first match we suffer a lot.”

Eyes on the centre referee

Badri’s officiating cries may be spot on after it was confirmed that controversial South African referee Victor Gomes will officiate today’s Caf Champions League game between KCCA and Egyptian side Al Ahly. The match official has been in the spotlight over various incidents in the past year. In February it was reported that he rejected a 111m ($30 000)  bribe to fix a Caf Confederation Cup first-leg match between Nigerian side Plateau United and Algeria’s USM Alger.

He was also voted South African referee of the year for the season 2012-13 and he received his FIFA badge in 2011 but has come under intense criticism over the past year in his home country.

Magreb fear fading away

After flooring three Arab clubs last season at Lugogo – Al Masry, FUS Rabat and Club Africain – KCCA should encounter this particular tie with a lot of optimism.

On their last visit to Kampala, Al Ahly were held to a goalless draw by SC Villa in the second round of the first leg of the 2005 Champions’ League at Nakivubo.

Custodian Denis Onyango (now a five-time ABSA league winner at Mamelodi Sundowns) kept Villa’s chances of qualifying for the next round alive with numerous miraculous saves to deny the Egyptians an away win.

KCCA probable XI

Charles Lukwago (goalkeeper), Timothy Awany, Habib Kavuma, Filbert Obenchan , Mustafa Kizza, Isaac Kirabira, Sadam Juma, Julius Poloto, Allan Okello, Jackson Nunda, Muhammad Shaban

Substitutes: Tom Ikara, Paul Musamali, Denis Okot, Paul Mucureezi, Lawrence Bukenya, Patrick Kaddu, Derrick Nsibambi

Al Ahly probable XI: El-Shennawy, Fathi, Naguib, Ashraf, Rahil, Ashour, El-Sulaya, Gaber, Soliman , Mahlambi, Mohsen.