Al Ahly star says the Egyptians are more familiar with Sundowns and Pirates
Al Ahly midfielder Saleh Gomaa has admitted that BidVest Wits gave them a bit of a fright before they were finally able to sneak through to the group stages of the African Champions League on Sunday afternoon.
Wits were playing in the Champions League for the first time and their performances over the two legs of the second round tie took the Egyptians completely by surprise.
Gomaa conceded that the visitors are more familiar with African champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates and coach Gavin Hunt’s unheralded charges gave them something to think about after 180 minutes of football.
‘‘This is a very good team that we played against‚” Gomaa said.
“They are a very strong team. We didn’t know that this team is like this and they have such a good field and they have such good facilities (at BidVest Stadium).
‘‘We know that South Africa has good teams in Sundowns and Orlando (Pirates).
‘‘But every year we play against teams from here and we know how to play against teams from here. The first game in Egypt (against Wits) was not good for us and we won 1-0.
“It was difficult for us to play (at BidVest Stadium). If Wits had scored one goal it would have been difficult for us to play again.
‘‘You know that the fans of Al Ahly‚ the president and everyone in Egypt would not have been happy had we gone out of the competition at this early stage.
‘‘It is difficult for us and we are now focusing on the group stages."
The two sides drew 0-0 in the second leg at BidVest Stadium on Sunday afternoon but the Egyptians managed to progress to the next stage of the premier club competition on the continent after winning the first leg 1-0 in Cairo.
Gomaa said given that Wits were something of a closed book to them‚ they made a point of watching the video of Wits’ 2-0 league defeat to Sundowns last month.
The Egyptians also watched Wits’ 2-0 win over lower tier side Cape Town All Stars in the Nedbank Cup a few days ago.
‘‘The coach (Hossam El-Badry) said before the game that this will be a difficult game‚" Gomaa said.
‘‘We only won 1-0 (over two legs) and it was difficult for us.
‘‘We watched their last game in the cup (against Cape Town All Stars) and the one they played against Sundowns that they lost 2-0. They are a good team and we have been watching this team’s last few games.
‘‘They have a very good coach (Gavin Hunt)‚ they have very good players and I am delighted that we have qualified for the group stages.
‘‘We will go back to Egypt to focus on the league.”
Wits have now dropped to the Confederations Cup and Hunt said they would do their best and see how it goes.
‘‘I will give it a go again‚” Hunt said.
‘‘I think the games are better spaced and better evened out now.
"We have got a better chance of playing a strong squad in these games and we will still compete and will have a go in the next leg‚ wherever the draw is." — TMG Digital