CAF : Al Ahly and Zamalek Coaches begin their CAF Careers
Former English Premier League managers Martin Jol and Alex McLeish launch CAF Champions League careers this weekend with Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek.
Hollander Jol took Ahly to Angola for a last-32 clash with Recreativo Libolo Saturday and Scot McLeish travelled with Zamalek to Cameroon for a Sunday showdown against Union Douala.
The games are among round-of-32 first legs with TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo starting a title defence at Saint George of Ethiopia under new French coach Hubert Velud.
Ahly are hunting a record-extending ninth Champions League title and 60-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham boss Jol has clear objectives.
“Winning the CAF Champions League and the Egyptian title is important for us,” he said after making a winning start with a 2-1 domestic championship victory over Misr Elmaqasah.
“However, it is also important that we play well because Ahly are renowned for producing attractive football.
“Ahly have won even more competitions than Barcelona so I am proud to join this club. When the club president phone me, I did to hesitate to say ‘yes’.”
Injuries rule out two veterans — goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy and striker Emad Meteb — for the clash with high-scoring Recreativo in Calulo, 300 kilometres south of Luanda.
While Ahly had a preliminary-round bye, Libolo trounced Racing Micomeseng of Equatorial Guinea 9-1 on aggregate with Senegalese Mamadou Diawara scoring four goals and Luiz Luciano Silva three.
Jol included two foreigners, strikers Malick Evouna of Gabon and John Antwi of Ghana, in a 20-man Red Devils squad.
McLeish says he is relishing the chance to win trophies at Zamalek after years of battling relegation with Birmingham City and neighbours Aston Villa.
“I have been fire-fighting for a long time and need a change,” said the 57-year-old after becoming the fourth manager of the White Knights this season.
Zamalek lost their first domestic match under McLeish, but bounced back to beat Arab Contractors in a Cairo derby last weekend.
“I wanted to try something different so here I am. There are about 25 million people in Cairo — half support Zamalek and half support Ahly.
“It was nice of the chairman to say that he will leave anything related to football for me because it is my speciality.”
But chairman Mortada Mansour is a hard man to please, firing Portuguese, Brazilian and Egyptian coaches since the mid-2015 start of the season.
Velud, who has coached in Morocco and Algeria, replaced compatriot Patrice Carteron after Mazembe flopped at the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, finishing second last.
“I am working with incredible professionals who want to win more trophies,”
he said of squad that includes Congolese, Ghanaians, Ivorians, Malians and Zambians.
A priority is replacing Tanzanian Mbwana Aly Samatta, the joint leading 2015 Champions League scorer who has joined Belgian club Genk.
Ghanaian Daniel Nii Adjei put his hand up by bagging a brace when Mazembe beat Etoile Sahel of Tunisia last month to lift the CAF Super Cup.