I wish our fans were back in the stands Al Ahly coach - El Badry
Egyptian giants and record champions Al Ahly will kick off their 2012 Orange CAF Champions League group stage campaign this weekend when they entertain DR Congo's TP Mazembe on the Cairo Military Academy Stadium. As has been the norm most recently with all football matches in Egypt the game will be held behind closed doors for security reasons. Ahly manager Housam El Badry told Cafonline.com that his one big wish would have been to see Ahly supporters in the stands behind the team in such a difficult and tricky game.
Cafonline.com:How do you see Ahly's Sunday game against TP Mazembe?
El Badry: It's going to be a very difficult one. Mazembe is a very tough team and have a good reputation on the continent. On the other hand Al Ahly is still in the pre season preparations' phase and the players still to gain their full physical and technical fitness yet. It's tricky to kick off the campaign with such a difficult game, especially that our players lack local competitive football since the suspension of domestic football activities.
Cafonline.com: So how did you go about preparing for this game ?
El Badry: We had a preparatory camp in Turkey where we played three friendly games, but without players in the national team who were busy with the 2013 African Cup of Nations qualification matches. After we returned to Cairo we had another friendly game that I used to draw a list of players to register in the Champions League squad. I believe we benefited a lot from these matches and now I can say I'm almost done with the starting lineup for Sunday’s game.
Cafonline.com: Tell us about the new players you registered and is there a chance that you may sign new ones?
El Badry: We still have some positions that l need to fill but I have register those who we need. We signed Ivorian striker Ousso Konan who is a talented and strong striker. Also the right back Ahmed Seddik returned to the team, and we registered the youngster Mahmoud Hassan who is a talented midfielder and was awesome in the friendly matches. We still try to sign other players before the registration deadline.
Cafonline.com: It seems you settled for a 4-4-2 like in your previous spell with the team?
El Badry: Not yet. The tactics may differ according to the game itself. We used a 4-4-2 tactic in our friendly games but this doesn't mean that's the final decision.
Cafonline.com: What do you make of your opponents TP Mazembe?
El Badry: Mazembe is a team known to everyone; they won the Champions League twice in a row and represented Africa in the Club World Cup. I watched tapes of their games against Sudan's El Merriekh in the previous round and I can say they are a very good team. We respect them a lot.
Cafonline.com: To what extent will you be affected by playing behind closed doors?
El Badry: I really wish that our supporters would attend the game, especially seeing that things are getting settled in Egypt with the new president now elected. I hope our fans would be there behind us in the coming important and decisive games because they motivate us well. I wish this turns out to be our last game behind closed doors.
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