Al-Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef opens up to Cafonline.com ahead of their Orange CAF Super Cup clash against CS Sfaxien of Tunisia on Thursday, 20 February 2014 at the Cairo International Stadium.
Youssef, who guided the Egyptian giants to the Orange CAF Champions League last year, says the trophy will be the ideal gift for their teeming fans, who will be watching the team play at their favourite grounds for the first time in as many years. He also talks about the new look Ahly team following the retirement of Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Aboutreika last year.
Below is the full interview with the Ahly coach;
Cafonline.com: How ready are you for the Orange CAF Super Cup?
Mohamed Youssef: We have been preparing for the past weeks, playing a game in every four days in the Egyptian Premier League. We have played nine games thus far. Our performance has not been that good but we are anxious and ambitious about winning the Orange CAF Super Cup.
What impact will your performance in the league have on the game?
This is a different game altogether. Our performance in the league has been largely due to the absence of some key players. We have played with many reserve players, which has affected our output. This is just a one-off game and the good news is some of our injured players are responding positively ahead of the game. We will fight on till the last minute to achieve our target.
For the first time in many months, fans will be allowed on your favourite grounds. What does this mean to you?
The supporters have been an important strong point for Ahly towards winning matches and titles. Their presence will be good for the team and spur us on. They have always stood by us and followed us wherever we go. We will play for the fans and the title will be the ideal gift for our fans. It will be a special moment and we must be in a good position to deliver.
How is your team coping with the retirement of Mohamed Aboutreika and Mohamed Barakat last year?
It is a reality now. They were two important players and they both retired last year. Besides, we are also faced with injuries to key players such as Walid Soliman and Emad Meteb. Striker Ahmed Abdelzaher (scored in the final of 2013 Orange CAF Champions League against Orlando Pirates) has been transferred. The absence of these players is really affecting us, but we are keen on doing better.
However, Mohamed Nagy ‘Geddo’ has returned from England (after a brief spell with Hull City) and Burkinabe Moussa Yedan from Coton Sport (Cameroon) has joined. We also have a couple of emerging players hoping to make a name for themselves and continue with the club’s history and tradition.
What does this game mean to you as a coach?
It’s a very important game being my first time as a coach (was assistant to Hossam Al-Badri when Ahly won title last year) and especially against CS Sfaxien. There is a lot of history between the two clubs and this is a special moment for me. Last year, we beat AC Leopards (Congo) and we are ambitious to win it again. I hope to win the CAF Super Cup as a coach after winning the CAF Champions League last year.
Ahly beat Sfaxien in the 2009 edition; do you foresee history repeating itself?
This is a new team, players and a different atmosphere. We (clubs) know each other having played a couple of times. We are familiar with Tunisian clubs, as we have played against Esperance and Etoile du Sahel amongst others. We know their system and will do our best to win the game.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) News
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