JOHANNESBURG- Egyptian football club Al-Ahly must shrug off dismal domestic form if they are to win a record-extending sixth CAF Super Cup title Thursday.
The ‘Red Devils’ host Tunisians CS Sfaxien at the 75,000-seat Cairo Stadium in an annual one-off match-up between the Champions League and Confederation Cup holders.
Ordinarily, Ahly would be firm favourites to embellish a Super Cup record of five victories and one defeat, while two previous appearances by Sfaxien ended in losses.
But these are not normal times for the eight-time African champions with a national league loss at El-Gouna last weekend the third in nine outings.
Many Egyptians must be rubbing eyes in disbelief as they study the Group A championship table and see Ahly only third behind unfashionable Smouha and Arab Contractors.
El-Gouna are just two points off the bottom while the other defeats came against Contractors and El-Daklyeh, another lower-half side.
However, embattled coach Mohamed Youssef believes the importance of the Super Cup can rejuvenate a team struggling to overcome injuries and retirements.
“Playing a quality team like Sfaxien should help my players regain confidence,” the 43-year-old former Ahly and Egypt defender told the club website.
Youssef, who replaced Libya-bound compatriot Hossam El-Badry last year, brushed aside media calls for his resignation.
“I have no intention of abandoning Ahly. There are problems and I am going to fix them,” he pledged. “My players must forget El-Gouna and concentrate on Sfaxien.”