Wydad’s Vandenbroeck Had no Plan B against Al Ahly

Wydad’s Vandenbroeck Had no Plan B against Al Ahly

Sven Vandenbroeck Had no Plan B against Al Ahly.

The thrilling finale of the African Champions League ended in heartbreak for Wydad Casablanca as they were edged out by Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly, despite a 1-1 draw in the second leg at home. The aggregate score favored Al Ahly due to their 2-1 win in the first leg in Cairo.

Wydad began the second leg on the front foot, realizing the need to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg. They made a promising start, scoring an early goal in the 28th minute to level the aggregate score and ignite the hopes of their ardent fans. However, the strategy of retreating into a defensive shell following the goal turned out to be a misstep that they would live to regret.

Sven Vandenbroeck, Wydad’s coach, seemingly underestimated the resilience and tenacity of the Al Ahly side. His tactic to protect the lead rather than trying to build on it proved costly. When Al Ahly’s Mohamed Abd Monem scored from a set-piece corner in the 78th minute, Wydad found themselves lacking a Plan B.

Monem’s goal was a characteristic one. Frequently seen rushing to the first post and deflecting the ball towards the second, he had scored in a similar fashion against Raja Casablanca earlier in the tournament. Despite this knowledge, Wydad seemed unprepared to deal with this threat.

Before the goal, Wydad had shown commendable defensive resilience. Their backline managed to nullify the threats of Al Ahly’s attacking trio of Chahat, Kahraba, and Taw and their dangerous full-back, Ali Maaloul.

In particular, Bouhara kept Taw under check, and Ounajam did an admirable job of stopping Al Ahly’s dangerous full-back, Ali Maaloul, from contributing offensively.

However, their strategy of defense without creating counter-attacking menace was a departure from their usual aggressive playstyle.

Following a 2-1 defeat in the first leg, the coach projected an overly confident image, misleading both fans and players about the challenge the second leg would present, thereby fostering false hope of an assured Wydad victory.

Vandenbroeck’s lack of respect towards Al Ahly was evident even before the match, projecting an aura of overconfidence that ultimately proved detrimental. This approach was in stark contrast to the previous year, when then-coach Walid Regragui treated Al Ahly with the respect they deserved, often referring to them as “the Real Madrid of Africa.”

Sven Vandenbroeck failed to react to the developments in the second half and adjust his tactics in response to the changes made by Al Ahly’s coach. Losing the title was unfortunate, but the worse aspect was Wydad’s lacking Plan B after the equalizing goal, both tactically and psychologically, not to mention the coach’s wrong substitutions.

In big matches of this magnitude, even the smallest errors are forbidden, but Wydad committed three crucial ones across both legs.

The final whistle marked a somber moment for Wydad and their fans, as they ruefully reflected on what could have been. The match served as a harsh reminder of the importance of respect for the opposition and the need for tactical adaptability in football. It is hoped that Wydad will take these lessons on board as they regroup and refocus their energies on their next campaign. Their journey may have ended in disappointment this time around, but with reflection and learning, they can hope to return stronger in their pursuit of African glory.