This year’s CAF Champions League final has somewhat of a David vs Goliath feel about it. Of course, Kaizer Chiefs is one of the biggest clubs on the continent in terms of brands and marketing, but Amakhosi have only won one CAF club competition so far – the 2001 CAF African Cup Winners’ Cup (predecessor of the CAF Confederations Cup). Meanwhile, Al Ahly are the biggest club in Africa – on and off the pitch. The Egyptian giants have won the CAF Champions League nine times so far and are the defending champions.
In two of their 13 finals so far, Al Ahly have faced South African opposition and ended up victorious on both occasions. Back in 2001, Al Ahly beat Mamelodi Sundowns (1-1, 3-0) and 12 years later they defeated Orlando Pirates (1-1, 2-0), with both finals being played over two legs and the SA teams losing away from home. This year’s final, though, will only be played over one leg at a neutral ground, the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca. If the game ends in a draw after 90 minutes, it would go into 30 minutes of extra-time and then penalties.
Kaizer Chiefs have reached their first ever final and are the first team to reach the last-two of the competition in their debut season since AS Vita in 2014 when they lost in the final against ES Setif. The Glamour Boys could become the third team from South Africa to lift the trophy, following in the footsteps of Pirates (1995) and Downs (2016).
Meanwhile, Al Ahly want to lift their 10th CAFCL title – the ‘La Decima’ or ‘Al aashir’ as it is called in Arabic. They will feature in their 14th final overall and have lost just four so far. Al Ahly beat Zamalek 2-1 in an all-Egyptian final last year. However, they also lost the 2017 and 2018 editions of the tournament’s finals. Their 2020 victory ended a seven-year wait for their ninth title, with Pitso Mosimane being brought in to ensure they will win it. ‘Jingles’ himself has won two CAF Champions League titles so far. On Saturday, he could become the first African coach in history to win the competition thrice – only legendary Portuguese Al Ahly coach Manuel Jose has won it more than twice (4) so far. Al Ahly could win the tournament in consecutive seasons for a third time, after 2005/06 and 2012/13.
How They Got To The Final
Kaizer Chiefs have kept seven clean sheets in their 10 matches (excluding the playoff rounds) on their way to the final, no side has ever recorded more in a single season in the competition. Chiefs achieved this despite having faced the most shots in 2020/21 (142 – 14.2 per game). Al Ahly have lost just one of their last 20 matches in the competition, their 1-0 defeat to Simba in the group stages. It was also the only game they failed to score in the competition over this run. Chiefs, meanwhile, have scored in 50% of their games (5/10). Amakhosi, though, have scored the most goals from headers in this year’s campaign (six goals). Al Ahly, however, have scored the most goals (18) out of all teams and had the most shots (130) in the CAFCL this season.
Al Ahly’s Afsha has been directly involved in 10 goals (5 goals and 5 assists) in the CAF Champions League since the start of 2019/20, no player has been involved in more. Al Ahly forward Mohamed Sherif is in great form, scoring eight goals in his last seven games for Mosimane’s men. Samir Nurkovic has been involved in five of Chiefs’ last nine goals in all competitions, scoring four and assisting one.
Eric Mathoho, meanwhile, has scored three goals in the CAF Champions League this campaign (including playoffs) – the joint-most with Nurkovic. Overall, the defender has netted six times in the CAF Champions League for the club, more than any other player.