3 ways to win or lose: Tactical superiority key to Kaizer Chiefs, Al Ahly’s battle
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JOHANNESBURG - Tonight’s CAF Champions League final clash between Al Ahly and Kaizer Chiefs at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca will be decided by finer details. We look at the tactical approaches where the match could be won or lost.
CHIEFS’ GOALKEEPING DEPARTMENT
Chiefs’ solid defence at home is one of the key factors that ensured that they reached this stage of the competition. Their three goalkeepers Bruce Bvuma, Itumeleng Khune and Daniel Akpeyi kept 11 clean sheets in 14 matches in the competition.While they may have conceded more goals away from home, they’ll know the importance of another clean sheet in the final.
After all, a clean sheet could either guarantee a win or a lifeline via the lottery of penalty shoot-outs after regulation time. The goalie who’ll don the No 1 jersey remains unknown, but all three custodians can step up to the plate for a game of this magnitude. All three shot-stoppers have similar traits: good reflexes, able to close spaces and good in one-on-one duels.
AL AHLY’S POTENCY & UNPREDICTABILITY
Do not take your eyes off Chiefs' solid goalkeeping department. But there’s no goalkeeper that’s unbeatable. Al Ahly’s attack has been ruthless, using the snippet of chances to find their breakthrough. And that’s what they’ve been relying on lately.
Despite Mamelodi Sundowns being the better side in the quarter-finals, Al Ahly grabbed their chances when they could. Mohamed Sherif and Mohamed Magdy have been Mosimane’s go-toguys up front, and they delivered whenever called upon.What makes this Al Ahly side even more dangerous and unpredictable is having scorers from anywhere in the team, something that Mosimane has always advocated since his days with the Brazilians.
THE ENGINE ROOM DUEL
Midfielder Aliou Dieng has been colossal for the Red Devils in their engine room. He’s your traditional No 6; able to break attacks and could also link up play going forward. He was the standout player for Al Ahly the last time they played Sundowns.
But across the pitch, Dieng will come up against another hardcore maestro in Willard Katsande. The former Zimbabwean captain is not the quickest of players. But he makes up for that in physique and his bullish style of play is sometimes the heart of Chiefs’ engine.
The two midfielders might not necessarily chip in with the goals, unless it’s through set pieces, of course, but they’ll be crucial in closing spaces and helping in defence for their teams. And whoever excels might walk away with gold in the end.