Al Ahly boss Pitso Mosimane has settled on a surprising tactic for his side's first-ever campaign in the Egyptian League Cup.
Al Ahly opened their account in the inaugural edition of the competition with a goalless draw against El-Gouna on Thursday in a match in which the reigning African champions fielded a starting XI that predominantly featured academy players.
Mosimane has since explained that his decision to give the youngsters an opportunity was influenced by injury and the absence of a number of senior stars at the 2021 CAF Africa Cup of Nations competition in Cameroon.
"We’re facing a very special with the absence of players because of the Africa Cup of Nations and Covid-19, which gave an opportunity for the youngsters to play," the former Mamelodi Sundowns boss said, per KingFut.
"This situation may be harmful and beneficial, they are distinguished players, but they do not participate in training frequently. I attended their training during the international break to prepare for this day, to give them confidence. This was an incentive for them to show what they have.
"The youngsters are constantly promoted to the first team, and despite the difficult situation, we benefited from the experience. We dealt well well with the situations, in a very close match, with players who only trained with us for a few days."
Mosimane also confirmed that he would continue with the youth players for the remainder of the tournament, regardless of whether or not the decision potentially hindered his side's prospects of being crowned champions.
"...This group of players will play the rest of the tournament," he added. "I previously contracted Covid and was isolated for 10 days. When you get Covid, you lose weight and energy. The player [who did the same] needs some time to recover.
"Taher Mohamed Taher and Ahmed Abdelkader lost a lot of weight because of Corona. They must be properly prepared to avoid any setback. The performance was great, but the result isn’t satisfying. We respect the club’s motto and all the people and we strive to win the title, but we don’t promise that."
Scroll through the gallery to Mosimane's predecessors at Al Ahly