Monday, November 17, 2008

Al Ahly Coach Jubilant in Victory

Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose is beyond happy that his side won their record sixth African Champions League this weekend with a 2-2 draw against Cameroon side Coton Sport.

Their 2-0 win from the first leg in Cairo clinched the tie for them in the end, earning Ahly a 4-2 victory on aggregate and a third African title in four years.

"It's fantastic," Jose told BBC Sport.

"Now Ahly is the only club ever to win six Champions Leagues, and now we hope we're going to win the African Super Cup."

Ahly play the winners of the Confederation Cup in the African Super Cup in February.

In the meantime they face an even bigger challenge as they attempt to improve on their last showing at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.

The Egyptians travel to the tournament in December for the third time and will seek to better their bronze medal finish in 2006.

Still basking in Sunday's win, Jose also paid tribute to Coton Sport, after the Garoua team put up a strong fight over the two legs.

"Coton Sport made a very good match [of it]. In Cairo we had a fantastic match, and could have scored four or five goals, but didn't. So we came here, scored a lucky goal through Ahmed Hassan, then conceded a stupid goal. When they scored the second goal [my team] was scared about [conceding] a third goal, but I have very experienced players.

"So congratulations to Coton Sport but I think we deserved to win."

Coton Sport Alan Oumbleon paid tribute to his own team's efforts and said the experience of reaching their first final will make his players hungry for more success.

"It was wonderful to reach this final for my team, for my players, for the club and for the fans," he said.

"So now we know how wonderful it is, we want to reach this level every year."

He also conceded, however, that he will find it difficult to hold onto some of his best players after they attracted attention during their impressive march to the final.

"They deserve to go outside [Cameroon] because they have succeeded in playing very good football during this competition," he said.

Oumbleon also said his biggest challenge in the short term will be to try to motivate his players to return to playing in the Cameroonian national league.

From next weekend they will turn out in front of considerably smaller crowds than the estimated 20,000 at the Omnisport Stadium in Garoua on Sunday and the 70,000 at the Cairo International Stadium.

"It will be very difficult because they are used now to playing against great clubs in big stadiums with a lot of people and now we will play in a bad stadium, with a bad field.

"But our players will want to reach this level again."

MY POV: Hopefully the experience of playing in the Final will motivate fans to come out to watch Coton.

Besides that, can Ahly improve on their performance from a few year's back at the Club World Cup? They'll represent Africa just fine ...

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