Wydad Athletic Club Set for High-Stakes Showdown in Cairo

Wydad Athletic Club Set for High-Stakes Showdown in Cairo

Séverin Vandenberghe shaking Yahya Jabrane’s hand.

CAIRO- Wydad Athletic Club’s mission for continental glory has touched down in Cairo, Egypt, in readiness for the first leg of the African Champions League final against Al Ahly, scheduled for next Sunday. The team’s morale was visibly high after a training session and lunch at home before setting off on their voyage. The journey from Casablanca to Cairo was an uneventful one, facilitated by the comfort of a private jet.

Before embarking on the trip, Wydad conducted an intensive morning training session at the iconic Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca. It was a last-ditch effort to sharpen tactics and build the team’s synergy ahead of the final. Following their arrival in the land of the Pharaohs, head coach Séverin Vandenberghe will continue with a rigorous training program to ensure his squad is in optimal condition.

The team traveled with its full complement, save for the injured Hussein Benayada. It was a positive update, though, as midfielders Yahya Jabrane and Abdullah Himoud have bounced back from their injuries and are ready to participate in the first leg of the final. Despite medical attention, Hussein Benayada’s recovery has been slow, but the medical team is putting in a concerted effort to have him fit for the return leg.

In a notable move to further boost player motivation, Said Naciri, the President, has allocated substantial financial grants to his players before the first leg. The allocated grants exceed $120,000, according to local media. The intention is to encourage the players to secure a positive result from the first leg at Cairo, setting them up optimally for the return match at the Mohammed V Sports Complex in Casablanca.

Local media say Naciri personally informed the players of this substantial grant before their departure for Egypt, clarifying that this financial incentive specifically pertains to the first leg encounter. The value of another grant will be determined closer to the return leg in Morocco, with the aim of fueling the players’ resolve to defend their continental title.

The showdown between Wydad and Al Ahly will be hosted at the Cairo International Stadium. In a bid to ensure more support for Al Ahly, Egyptian authorities have increased the permitted stadium capacity. Originally set at 20,000 seats, the capacity has now been expanded to reflect the official seating of Cairo International Stadium, which stands at around 50,000 but can practically hold more than 70,000 fervent fans.

An insider source at the African Football Confederation (CAF) has silenced online rumors by confirming that Wydad Athletic Club and Al Ahly SC raised no objections to the appointment of Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema for the return leg of the African Champions League. Selected for his vast experience, Tessema, who is due to retire shortly, is expected to add a professional touch to this prestigious match.

Libyan referee Muataz Ibrahim will take charge of the first leg of the final. Despite the concerns voiced by some fans over his lack of experience in such a high-profile match, the CAF has shown its confidence in him. Assisting Ibrahim will be Tunisian VAR referee Haitham Guirat.

With all these preparations underway, the stage is set for a thrilling African Champions League first leg on Sunday.