After spending time Thursday studying video clips of the play of Al Ahly, Coach Hans van der Pluym emerged with confidence that Berekum Chelsea have an answer to the Egyptian side’s dominance in Group B of the CAF Champions League.
Chelsea host Al Ahly in Accra on Sunday in the reverse encounter of their Cairo clash, but it was the all-conquering form of the Egyptian giants that has necessitated a more focused approach to the weekend’s game.
Al Ahly have won their opening three matches in the group so far, including the 4-1 trouncing of Chelsea in Cairo two weeks ago, opening a five-point gap on joint second-placed Chelsea and TP Mazembe.
Ahly’s trademark fast play dictated the pace in the Cairo match, but the return of Mohamed Aboutreika and Emad Meteb from the London Olympic Games has added to the resources at their disposal.
Thursday's digestion of their play, character, strengths and weaknesses gave Coach van der Pluym a clearer picture of the side with a record six Champions League trophies and remains Africa’s greatest club side.
Indeed, the pair of Aboutreika and Meteb are a useful part of Ahly, the latter fetching the decisive strike as they beat compatriots and fellow Egyptian giants Zamalek 1-0 in a derby.
But they face a bruised Chelsea side boosted, however, by the eligibility of striker Bismark Idan following a clearance note issued by CAF this week.
Idan’s availability adds to the threat posed by the competition’s top scorer so far, Emmanuel Clottey, who is expected back from China Friday, along with goalkeeper Ernest Sowah after the Black Stars’ friendly in Asia.
Clottey has scored all of Chelsea’s six goals in the group phase of the competition (but a total of 12), including a hat-trick against Zamalek, and Ahly’s headache could be how to keep him under the lid.
Already, the drama of uncertainty over the match venue after CAF rejected Berekum and then Kumasi for Sunday’s tie has hyped the encounter into a super clash waiting to unfold.