Al-Ahly told to be ready for heated battle in Tunisia against Esperance de Tunis in Champions League final

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It was a tense and heated affair in Alexandria last week. Another red-ht atmosphere is expected on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 08 November 2018
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Al-Ahly told to be ready for heated battle in Tunisia against Esperance de Tunis in Champions League final

  • Al-Ahly take 3-1 lead into clash as coach Carteron tells team to be prepared for "war".
  • Esperance boss Chaabani wants players to overcome "extreme injustice" of first leg.

LONDON: Al-Ahly may be taking a 3-1 lead into the second leg of the CAF Champions League final against Esperance de Tunis on Friday, but their coach Patrice Carteron has told his team to be prepared for “war” in their bid to win a ninth continental crown.
The first leg in Alexandria last weekend was an extremely feisty and bad-tempered affair that will be remembered for two controversial VAR (video assistant referee) penalties for Al-Ahly — Walid Soliman converted both.
Furious Esperance players and coaches accused the Egyptian side’s striker Walid Azaro of diving to win the first spot-kick and of feigning injury and tearing his shirt for the second.
The Tunisians accused the Algerian referee of bias and the Cairo club of pre-match dirty tricks, including delaying their arrival at the stadium and police harassment.
No CAF Champions League final is a quiet affair, but after the first leg today’s clash is expected to be on the red-hot end of heated. And Carteron has warned his side they cannot take anything for granted despite their two-goal advantage.
“We are fortunate to have many players sufficiently experienced to deal with this kind of match,” the Al-Ahly coach said.
“I hope the team receives special protection and that the Tunisian government ensures we have a football match, and not a war in the stands.”

Walid Azaro is supsended for Friday's do-or-die clash. 


Carteron is only too well aware that Al-Ahly will need to be at their most-levelled best to ensure they lift the trophy tonight. They go into the clash without Azaro, right, who has been banned for two matches following the incident last week. CAF did not elaborate on why the ban had been imposed but it is thought it was because the Moroccan was ultimately shown to have ripped his shirt in the first leg.
While Al-Ahly will rue the loss of the man who has scored six goals in the competition so far, second only to TP Mazembe’s Ben Malango, the sense of grievance — they have appealed the ban — could well drive them to put in the necessary backs-against-the-wall performance in Tunis.
That aim of righting some wrongs will definitely be a motivating factor for Esperance. Their coach Moine Chaabani is still smarting from what he sees as the injustices of the first leg. But Chaabani, promoted when Khaled Ben Yahia was fired after a first-leg loss to Primeiro in the semifinals, is confident his side can win the Champions League for the third time.
“We can recover from 3-1 behind — there is still hope. A key issue is keeping my players focused on football with so much else going on,” he said.
Chaabani is angry at the losses of center-back Dhaouadi and Cameroonian midfield enforcer Kom, whose second yellow cards of the competition triggered automatic one-match suspensions.
“Dhaouadi was booked for no reason, so was Kom. It is as if they were targeted (by the referee) from the get go.
“I am livid at what happened in Alexandria, but have to keep it together for the sake of the team. We were subjected to an extreme injustice.”


Australia end T20 losing streak with 4-run win over India in Brisbane

Updated 38 min 35 sec ago
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Australia end T20 losing streak with 4-run win over India in Brisbane

BRISBANE: Australia allrounder Marcus Stoinis took two wickets in the last over Wednesday as India’s batting lineup collapsed late to lose their tour-opening Twenty20 international by four runs.
Virat Kohli returned to lead India after skipping the previous series against West Indies and, after winning the toss and sending Australia in to bat, had a below-par night, dropping a regulation catch in the fourth over, misfielding later in the innings and getting out for four.
The Australians posted 158-4 in a rain-interrupted 17 overs with Glenn Maxwell (46 from 24 balls) and Chris Lynn (37 from 20 balls) each belting four sixes and Stoinis finishing unbeaten on 33.
The rain delay brought the Duckworth-Lewis rules into play, giving India a revised target of 174 from 17 overs.
Shikhar Dhawan set India up in its run chase with a 42-ball 76 that included 10 boundaries and two sixes, including one over backward square to raise his half century.
He had a reprieve on 65 when Adam Zampa put down a return catch, but was finally out upper cutting a short ball from Billy Stanlake to Jason Behrendorff on the third man boundary as India slipped to 105-4 in the 12th over.
His wicket came in a period when India lost 3-24, and seemed to give Australia the advantage. But Rishabh Pant (20) and Dinesh Karthik (30) took up the attack and plundered 25 from one over by Andrew Tye after a tactical blunder by Australia captain Aaron Finch, who lost track of the new bowling restrictions.
The pair put on 51 for the fifth wicket to give India the ascendancy before Pant paddled an easy catch to Behrendorff off Tye’s bowling to again swing the momentum, leaving India needing 18 runs from nine balls.
Stoinis bowled the last over, with India needing 13 runs, and took pace off the ball as he picked up the wickets of Krunal Pandya and Karthik before India finished 169-7.
Kohli described it as a “sort of see-saw battle” and Dhawan said the India squad wasn’t overly disappointed with the narrow loss.
A missed runout when Maxwell was on 9 and a few dropped catches were momentary setbacks for India, Dhawan said, but “we got a lot of confidence out of this game and we’re going to take it forward for the next game.”
Stoinis said he enjoyed the pressure of bowling the last over and hoped Australia was turning a corner after losing four consecutive T20s.
“We’ve got good memories in the team,” he said. “We dominated T20s last year. We were No. 1 or 2 in the world rankings not long ago. We’re confident.”
India has won its last seven T20 series, and Kohli’s squad is using the three-game series in the shortest format to fine-tune for the bigger prize starting next month when it chases its first ever test series victory in Australia.
Australian cricket has been in turmoil since a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March and is coming off back-to-back series losses to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and at home against South Africa.
On top of that, Australia was missing frontline bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, who were preparing for the four-match test series which kicks off Dec. 6 in Adelaide.