By Seraj Essul and Muttaz Ali.
Tripoli, 29 April 2014:
Following its success in the 16-team stage of the Orange CAF . . .[restrict]Champions League, defeating Ahly Egypt 3-2 a month ago in Cairo, Al-Ahly Benghazi have now been placed in an all-Maghreb group for the quarter round stage of the cup.
At this morning’s draw at the African federation’s headquarters near Cairo, Al-Ahly was placed in Group 2 with Algeria’s ES Setif, Esperance Tunis and Tunisia’s other leading club, CS Sfaxien. It is seen as a particularly tough group.
Group 1 comprises Zamalek (Egypt), Al-Hilal (Sudan) and TP Mazembe and AS Vita, both from the Democratic Republic Congo.
The dates and locations of matches are yet to be decided. Each team will play two games against each of the other three in the group, normally one at home, one away. In Libya’s case, however, CAF has banned home matches because of security concerns.
However Wanis Khair, Al-Ahly’s manager, told the Libya Herald that the club is trying to get CAF to relax its ban by agreeing at least to permit it to play home matches in Libya, even if it means having them without any spectators. He said that the federation had banned home matches in Egypt for security reasons but then relented, allowing them to be played without spectators.
He added that Zamalek was now trying to get CAF to relent even further by allowing it to play its home matches in the Champions League in front of a crowd.
Such is the rivalry between Al-Ahly Benghazi and Al-Ahly Tripoli over their name that it cannot be assured that fans of the Tripoli team will support their Benghazi rivals as they battle their way through the Group 2 matches. Many, it is suspected, will be supporting the Tunisians and Algerians.
However, that is very much not the case with Tripoli Ittihad fans who say they are backing the Benghazi team all the way. When Ahly won against the Egyptians a month ago, the Ittihad management sent a letter congratulating them. A fortnight ago, when Alhy arrived in the capital to play a friendly match, the players were delighted by Ittihad fans going to their hotel with present of cakes and chocolates. [/restrict]