SOUSSE, Tunisia (AFP) - Tunisian team Etoile Sahel coach Bertrand Marchand has labelled African Champions League final rivals Al-Ahly of Egypt a lucky team ahead of the first leg on Saturday.
"Ahly depend too much on luck and experience and will need more than that when facing us," the Frenchman told reporters before a rematch of the 2005 final won 3-0 on aggregate by Ahly.
"The key Ahly players are midfielder Mohamed Aboutraika and striker Emad Moteab and if we stop them, they will be easily contained and we can definitely claim the trophy."
Marchand considers Al-Hilal, the Sudanese club Etoile shaded 4-3 in a two-leg semi-final thriller, a much better team than the Egyptians, who relied on an own goal to edge Al-Ittihad of Libya at the same stage.
"I watched Ahly against Ittihad and they suffered to succeed. Hilal are much better than the Egyptians. I had far more worries ahead of the matches against the Sudanese," he revealed.
Aware that Etoile flopped against Ahly two years ago using hyper cautious tactics home and away, Marchand vowed to unleash a three-man strike force against opponents chasing a record third consecutive Champions League title.
His likely choices are Tunisian Amine Chermiti, leading Etoile scorer in the competition this year with seven goals, three-goal Cape Verdian Gilson 'Ja' Silva and Ghanaian mid-year signing Sadat Bukari.
All are young, quick and slick, and capable of troubling an Ahly defence long on experience but short on pace when brutally exposed 3-0 away to Hilal in the mini-league phase.
"Winning the African Champions League would be a dream. We have a solid squad and wonderful supporters and I cannot accept failure again after losing two of the previous three finals," Chermiti told the Tunisian media.
Etoile were pipped on penalties by Enyimba of Nigeria in the 2004 decider and the club from the Mediterranean resort of Sousse have won every African Football Confederation (CAF) competition except the Champions League.
They also want to end a losing streak by Tunisia in the showcase of African club football as Club Sportif Sfaxien had victory snatched from their grasp last year when Aboutraika struck a stoppage-time winner in Tunis.
While Marchand has been happy to stoke the verbal flames, counterpart Manuel Jose from Portugal has been unusually quiet in the build-up to a match expected to attract a sell-out 25,000 crowd to the modest Olympic Stadium.
Ahly, the most successful club in CAF history with five Champions League victories, four African Cup Winners Cup successes and three African Super Cup triumphs, barred journalists and followers from a midweek flight to Tunisia.
"We do not want to disturb our players as they must focus totally on the final," explained team manager and former Ahly star Hossam al-Badry when the Egyptian-dominated squad touched down.
Angolan midfielder Felisberto 'Gilberto' Amaral, one of three 'imports' used during the 12-match campaign that took Ahly to the final, has been ruled out of the first leg owing to the recurrence of an Achilles injury.
But midfielder Mohamed Barakat, outstanding in the 2005 demolition of Etoile, returns after being sidelined by a knee injury since the semi-final victory over Ittihad.
There was also a recall to the squad for striker Ahmed Belal, out for five months with a fractured foot, but Angolan Flavio Amado and Moteab are the probable starters if Jose opts for a two-man attack.
The return match will be staged on November 9 in Cairo at the 37,000-seat Military Academy Stadium because the much bigger Cairo Stadium is needed for the Pan-Arab Games.
|O´Neill delighted with second-half display|
|First-half dominance pleases Deschamps|
|Muller criticises Germany profligacy|
|Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Portugal go top, Gibraltar make history in defeat|
|Liverpool the only English club I could play for - Suarez|
|France 2 Denmark 0: Lacazette off the mark in routine victory|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Poland 1: Long rescues vital point|
|Portugal 2 Serbia 1: Coentrao puts hosts top of Group I|
|Strachan hails ´terrific´ Gibraltar|
|Lafferty back playing with a smile on his face - O´Neill|
|Toure to reveal Ivory Coast future over coming days|
|Georgia 0 Germany 2: Reus and Muller on target for world champions|
|Northern Ireland 2 Finland 1: Lafferty inspires fourth qualifying success|
|Scotland 6 Gibraltar 1: Casciaro´s historic moment outshone by Fletcher´s hat-trick|
|France 2-0 Denmark: Lacazette and Giroud on target|
|Firmino hopeful of Copa America spot|
|Hummels considering options at Dortmund|
|Suarez goalless on Anfield return, but Balotelli nets stunner|
|Casciaro scores first competitive goal for Gibraltar|
|Fleetwood Town 1 Preston North End 1: Ball stunner claims share of derby spoils|
|Italy v England: Judge me on results, says Conte|
|Colombia v Kuwait: Falcao seeking another strong showing|
|Brazil 1 Chile 0: Firmino settles scrappy affair|
|Luxembourg v Turkey: Let´s kick on, urges Terim|
|South Africa 1 Nigeria 1: Zungu strikes late to earn draw|
|Smalling wants long-term United stay|
|South Africa 1-1 Nigeria: Last-gasp Zungu goal cancels out Musa strike|
|Italy call up Santon and Abate for England friendly|
|Switzerland v United States: Klinsmann eyes learning curve|
|Netherlands v Spain: Hiddink has players´ support, says Wijnaldum|
|A-League Review: Sydney end Wellington run, Adelaide suffer injury blows in Jets win|
|Henderson eyes long-term Liverpool future|
|I have nothing to prove - Bale|
|Brazil 1-0 Chile: Firmino gives Selecao battling victory|
|South Korea v New Zealand: All Whites looking to future|
|Japan v Uzbekistan: Hosts eye another win under Halilhodzic|
|MLS Review: Kaka nets in Orlando draw|
|Mexico 1 Ecuador 0: Hernandez, Corona help Herrera´s men to victory|
|Deschamps calls for France response|
|Dunga unfazed by pressure|
|Montenegro fan turns himself in after flare incident|
|Injured Messi not ready - Martino|
|Hodgson: Rooney not close to Charlton|
|Terim proud of Turkey|
|Hiddink happy with point|
|Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Netherlands and Italy stage late escapes|
|Debutant Eder delighted with Azzurri bow|
|Argentina 2 El Salvador 0: Mancuello nets debut goal in straightforward win|
|Kovac not satisfied despite Croatia victory|
|Netherlands 1 Turkey 1: Huntelaar spares Hiddink from historic home loss|
|Ghana 1 Senegal 2: Konate brace downs Black Stars|
|Bulgaria 2 Italy 2: Controversial debutant Eder rescues Conte´s men|
|Morocco 0 Uruguay 1: Cavani spot-kick seals win|
|Al Sadd say talks with Xavi ongoing|
|McClean slams Sunderland´s handling of poppy controversy|
|Ghana 1-2 Senegal: Black Stars continue Afcon hangover|
|Cheltenham player diagnosed with cancer|
|Palace takeover talk premature - Parish|
|Odegaard becomes Euro qualifiers´ youngest starter|
|Job not done yet, Bale warns Wales|
|Israel 0 Wales 3: Brilliant Bale bags brace as Wales go top|
|Dunga backs Neymar to overhaul Pele´s Brazil goal record|
|League Two Review: Hartlepool climb out of drop zone, Cheltenham go bottom|
|El Salvador 0-2 Argentina: Martino's men triumph without Messi|
|League One Review: Canavan leaves it late to deny County|
|Freddy Adu signs with 11th team in as many years|
|Besiktas deny Cech, Danny rumours|
|Puerto Rico v Canada: Haber targets more momentum|
|Miranda not contemplating Atletico exit|
|Austin relaxed over England prospects|
|Manchester United should sign Ibrahimovic - Schmeichel|
|Ibe eyes Liverpool run-in|
|Bertrand called up by England as withdrawal of four players confirmed|
|A-League Review: Risdon nets stunner, Germano tames Roar|
|Panama v Costa Rica: Unbeaten run a secondary concern for Wanchope|
|Italy coach Conte shaken after death threats - FIGC chief|
|Barca fears over Alba eased|
|Schweinsteiger to start Germany qualifier|
|Akinfeev thanks fans after flare incident|
|Injuries offer Kane chance of first England start|
|Russian Football Union to protest following Montenegro abandonment|
|October comeback the target for injured Foster|
|Van der Vaart looks set to leave Hamburg|
|Bale focused on Wales - Coleman|
|Kluivert helps Curacao to victory|
|Hamstrung Alba returns to Barcelona|
|Macedonia v Australia: Confident visitors eye victory|
|Akinfeev to return to Moscow with Russia squad|
|Brnovic: Montenegro have no chance of qualifying|
|Russia had to resume after Akinfeev incident - Capello|
|Terim: Robben absence important|
|Brazil - Chile Preview: Winning is 'our only option' - Dunga|
|France - Denmark Preview: Olsen hits out at 'disrespectful' hosts|
|Morata keen to keep working|
|Canada 1 Guatemala 0: Haber heads Floro´s men to win|
|Difficult to find a place for Kane in starting XI - Hodgson|
|Difficult to find a place for Kane in starting XI - Hodgson|