Mtisi braces for Al-Ahly battle
By Augustine Hwata
Gunner’s captain Trymore Mtisi has declared that his side will not be intimidated by the imminent clash against Al-Ahly – the most decorated club in African football.
The Zimbabwe champions secured a berth in the first round of the African Champions League where they will play the vastly experienced Egyptians.
Gunners are only making their debut in the competition while Al-Ahly are record six time winners of the tournament.
With 34 Egyptian league titles under their belt, Al- Ahly make Gunner’s single Zimbabwe championship a look like child’s play.
But Mtisi is not letting the gulf in experience and class worry them.
“We are ready for any team in the first round of the competition.
“As Gunners, we are ready for Al-Ahly.
“I think we just have to do our best in the coming games,” he said.
Mtisi could be right, as Al-Ahly are not invincible after all.
Last year, as the defending champions in the Champions League, Al-Ahly lost in the second round to Kano Pillars of Nigeria.
In 2007, Al-Ahly played Zimbabwe giants Dynamos who lost two close encounters.
Mtisi sat out of his club’s 4-0 win over FC Mafunzo of Zanzibar at Rufaro on Sunday because of an injury sustained in their 2-1 first leg victory in the preliminary round in Tanzania.
“It was disappointing to watch from the sidelines but I am happy that we won.
“I think Mafunzo played better in the first leg than they did here at Rufaro.
“However, the scoreline here was bigger,” he said.
Even Mafunzo coach Shabaan Ramadhani admitted that his side did not play to expectations.
“We lack experience. We should have done better than we did at home.
“However, I know what I have to do in Zanzibar so that we win the league championship and return to play again next year,” said Ramadhani.
The first legs of the Champions league games have been set for the weekend of March 19-21.
It is on the same weekend that Dynamos, who had a bye in preliminary round, will be kick-starting their campaign in the Champions League.
DeMbare last played in the competition in 2008 and reached the semi-finals, exactly 10 years after they had reached the finals in 1998.
Dynamos will be playing Democratic Republic of Congo side Saint Eloi Lupopo who have four former DeMbare players — Phillip Marufu, Ephraim Mazarura, Carrington Gomba and Mtshumayeli Moyo — in their ranks.
Dynamos travel to Lubumbashi for the first leg while Gunners host Al-Ahly at Rufaro.
Defending African champions TP Mazembe will begin their campaign in defence of their title when they play APR FC of Rwanda.
Mazembe have four former Monomotapa players — Chris Samakweri, Mthulisi Maphosa, Daniel Zokoto and Darrly Nyandoro.
It brings to eight the number of Zimbabweans at DRC clubs.
Another Zimbabwean, Edward Sadomba’s Al Hilal of Sudan plays Africa Sports of Cote d’Ivoire in the first round. HR Sports