Ahly host Masandawana at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo in a first leg, quarter-final tie (21:00 SA time).
“We have previously faced Sundowns in the past editions, and this time is the third consecutive match in the same stage of the tournament.
“We are looking forward to booking a ticket to qualify for the semi-finals. Al Ahly will play one match against Sundowns, the first half of it will be tomorrow in Cairo and the second in South Africa next week,” the Red Devils skipper said.
He added that they were aiming to get a positive result at home to make life easy for themselves in the return leg set for Pretoria next weekend. that gives us an advantage before the return leg.
“We played many games in the past period in the league, and this page was closed completely in order to focus strongly on the two games against Sundowns.”
The Cairo giants drew 1-1 with crosstown rivals Zamalek on Monday and have had the last three days to prepare for the Downs match.
El-Shennawy said everyone in the team was aware of the importance of Saturday’s showdown. “Over the past three days, we have been making strong preparations for the clash. We talk as players together about the importance of the match.”
He revealed that the club’s coach Pitso Mosimane, who built Sundowns during his eight-year stint at the Tshwane outfit, had shown them videos of the South African champions.
“We watched with the coaching staff many matches for Sundowns to study them well and identify the strengths and weaknesses, and we know that we are defending our African title and certainly everyone is looking forward to the tenth star,” he added.
Mosimane faces the club he led to African glory in 2016 with the aim of knocking them out of the Champions League. Interestingly, both sides are familiar with each other, having faced off at the same stage in the past two seasons.
Mosimane was in charge of Sundowns on both occasions. In fact, he inflicted their worst ever defeat in an African competition — a stunning 5-0 in Pretoria in 2019.
But the 56-year-old was on the losing side last year as Ahly took revenge with a 3-1 aggregate quarter-final victory, with Mosimane then taking charge of the Red Devils before the semi-final stage and leading them to a long-awaited Champions League crown with a memorable 2-1 win over Cairo nemesis Zamalek in the final.
RELATED STORY: Ramadan helps Sundowns “focus” ahead Al Ahly showdown
By Mthokozisi Dube