Gamondi expects tough match in Egypt

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The Egyptians need a victory over the Tycoons in Cairo’s National Stadium on Sunday if they are to secure a place in the group stage of the CAF Champions League, as Stars lead 2-1 from their first leg home encounter.

“I am saying right now that there will be a problem with the referees,” Gamondi says in a report published by Business Day.

“I have coached in three Arabic countries and I know exactly what the referees are capable of. Anything is possible when your team is away to those countries and we have to be prepared.”

Outspoken Gamondi says, apart from a hostile 100 000 crowd expected to be behind Ahly, he expects the Ugandan referee to go out of his way to ensure the Egyptians are triumphant.

“I have been telling the players that they cannot protest any of the referee’s decisions. They cannot protest even if they are on the receiving end of some bad tackles because that referee will be waiting to issue them with yellow cards,” says the Argentinian.

“Going to Cairo and getting a result is not going to be mission impossible because Al-Ahly are not invincible. We have to retain the winning mentality we gained at home in the first leg.”

The weakest link in the Egyptians’ armour is likely to be their goalkeeping department.

Ahly’s first choice goalkeeper, Amir Abdul-Hamid, is struggling to be fit before Sunday.

Abdul-Hamid, the champions’ only senior keeper following the surprise departure of Essam Al-Hadari, is still nursing an inflamed knee tendon.

Ahly’s official website said yesterday that the 29-year-old guardian is working closely with goalkeeping coach Ahmed Nagui to be fit for the decisive African encounter.

Abdul-Hamid’s injury has left the technical staff sweating as they have had to depend on youngsters Ahmed Abdul-Monem and Mohamed Al-Shinawi.

Abdul-Monem conceded two goals in the 2-0 defeat to Egyptian League rivals Ittihad last week while Al-Shinawi conceded three as Ahly succumbed to their second league defeat on Tuesday this week.

Gamondi has already warned that his charges cannot afford to adopt a defensive formation if they want to become the first South African club to dump Al-Ahly out of the continental competition.

“We might be in the lead after the first leg but this is really half-time. We have to finish it off now and that means we cannot defend. It is important for us to score and we cannot fear this team,” he told Business Day.

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