Cairo giants Al Ahly will be seeking to cement their place as the dominant force in club football on the continent when they meet Wydad Casablanca in Monday’s African Champions League final.
The Egyptian club are on course for an unprecedented third successive Champions League triumph, achieving what no other side has done in a more than half century of the competition.
But while success in 2020 and 2021 came relatively easy, they are up against it at Casablanca’s Mohamed V Stadium, a controversial choice of venue by the Confederation of African Football, who only announced the Moroccan city would host the one-off game on May 9.
Ahly failed earlier this week in a bid to have the match postponed and moved to a neutral territory with an appeal to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport turned down.
CAF said Morocco were the only country to bid for the right to host the final after Senegal withdrew their application.
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CAF introduced the concept of a single final three years ago but are likely next season to revert back to the traditional two-legged, home and away decider.
Al Ahly have already won Africa’s top club prize 10 times, double the number of the next most successful teams but never three times in a row.
But away in Morocco they will find Wydad will command rabid support. Al Ahly have battled their way through to the final despite a taxing playing schedule, multiple injuries to key players and tired-looking performances.
“We will fight to win the Champions League. We played in the absence of important international players before under great pressure, and we are used to it,” said Ahly’s South African coach Pitso Mosimane, who will become the second manager to win the trophy four times if successful on Monday.
Wydad advanced to their third final in six years as the top scoring team in this season’s competition.
They beat Ahly over two legs for their success in 2017 but infamously walked off the pitch and refused to play on in the 2019 final against Esperance of Tunisia in a dispute over VAR.