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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Al Ahly v Esperance .. Final poised on a knife-edge as defensive rocks reign supreme


Fri 24 May 2024 | 08:00 PM
Al Ahly
Al Ahly
Mohamed Mandour

When Al Ahly and Esperance take to the field for the second leg of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League final in Cairo on Saturday, two unlikely stars could hold the key to continental glory - goalkeepers Mostafa Shobeir and Amanallah Memmiche.

With the first leg in Tunisia ending in a goalless stalemate, the tie is delicately poised, with defences very much on top after a tactical chess match in Rades.

At the heart of those rock-solid rearguards have been two stoppers who have emerged as revelations after being handed their chance due to injuries to Ahly captain Mohamed El Shenawy and Esperance's Moez Ben Cherifia respectively.

For 24-year-old Shobeir, following in the footsteps of his father Ahmed - himself an Ahly and Egypt great between the posts - it has been a whirlwind rise to prominence.

Yet the youngster has grasped his opportunity with both hands, not conceding in any of his eight appearances since being installed as Swiss coach Marcel Koller's first choice.

Shobeir was exceptional in shutting out Esperance last weekend, shielded superbly by a backline of Mohamed Hany, stand-in skipper Ramy Rabia, Mohamed Abdelmonem and substitute Karim Fouad, who was introduced early after an injury to Ali Maaloul.

At the opposite end, Memmiche's emergence has been equally remarkable. Turning 20 just last month, the youngster was initially a deputy to long-serving captain Ben Cherifia before usurping him between the posts and not looking back.