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.
|Mourinho: Victory at Stoke means more than three points|
|Postecoglou picks attacking Australia squad|
|Allegri disappointed by wasteful Juve|
|Benitez revels in Napoli´s Supercoppa Italiana win|
|Stoke City 0 Chelsea 2: Fabregas fires visitors to festive number one spot|
|Juventus 2 Napoli 2 (aet, 5-6 on pens): Rafael´s shootout heroics seal victory|
|Ki has mixed feelings over Asian Cup|
|Lafita set for six-month lay-off with ligament injury|
|Dyche dismisses Ings exit speculation|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Balikesirspor record rare win, Carlos bows out at Sivasspor|
|Freibug agree deals for Daehli and Petersen|
|Kampl set to join Dortmund|
|Al Shabab 1 Al Ain 1: Ahmad rescues late point for visitors|
|Blackpool chairman Oyston apologises for supporter spat|
|Flamini expects Arsenal to kick on|
|Brighton accept Hyypia resignation|
|FA charge Leeds defender Bellusci for alleged racist abuse|
|Uncapped Lee named in South Korea squad|
|Gutierrez makes Newcastle comeback|
|Ji to rejoin Augsburg from Dortmund|
|Holders ES Setif learn Champions League fate|
|Kraft extends Hertha deal|
|FIFA reform process ongoing - Blatter|
|Walsh: Leicester should stick with Pearson|
|Hodgson optimistic for England´s future|
|Milan chief Galliani targets Champions League|
|Hull recall Ince and Figueroa|
|Stranzl extends Gladbach stay|
|Redknapp not ruling out Morrison return|
|Barnes hopeful of keeping his place|
|Lambert hails ´outstanding´ Okore|
|Kramer pens Leverkusen extension|
|Lacazette will not rest on laurels|
|Hughes: Chelsea can win quadruple|
|Liverpool are turning the corner - Lallana|
|Ramos: No rush on contract talks|
|Johnson: Derby winner one of my finest hours|
|Juan credits Mancini for Inter revival|
|Allardyce eyeing London derby success|
|Juanfran targets new-year push|
|Long slams Southampton critics|
|Guidetti out, Griffiths in hints Deila|
|Spurs forward Kane targets 20 goals|
|Lyon fitness key to Bordeaux thrashing - Fournier|
|Santa Fe 1 Medellin 1 (agg 3-2): Hosts win Clausura title|
|Emelec 3 Barcelona 0 (4-1 agg): Bolanos brace seals title defence|
|Pioli: Lazio did not switch off|
|No Park in South Korea´s Asian Cup squad|
|Gignac: Marseille lead ´a huge boost´|
|Simeone applauds Griezmann´s hat-trick|
|Redknapp vows to keep QPR sharpshooter Austin|
|Santiago Wanderers 1 Palestino 6 (agg 2-9): 36-year drought ends for visitors|
|Juan Aurich 2 Sporting Cristal 3 (aet, agg 4-5): Chavez hands visitors Peruvian title|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Review: Bolivar win title|
|Mancini plays down Lennon transfer rumours|
|Ligue 1 Review: Marseille end 2014 top of the table, Lyon leapfrog PSG|
|Kovacic has mixed emotions after Inter draw|
|Serie A Review: Lazio go third despite Inter rally, Sampdoria held|
|La Liga Review: Griezmann the man for Atleti, Villarreal gain fifth straight win|
|Primeira Liga Review: Benfica win six straight|
|Athletic Bilbao 1 Atletico Madrid 4: Griezmann hat-trick seals comeback win|
|Inter 2 Lazio 2: Hosts rally to claim draw|
|McCoist makes Rangers exit|
|Sturridge on course for January return - Rodgers|
|Liverpool getting back on track, says Rodgers|
|Wenger bemoans failure to defend set-pieces|
|Bundesliga Review: Hoffenheim enjoy big win, Freiburg falter late on|
|Zorc: Dortmund to stick with Klopp|
|Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2: Bandaged Skrtel rescues a draw|
|I have no problem with Payet, insists Bielsa|
|Eredivisie Review: Ajax leave it late, Vitesse finally win|
|Pardew rues over-zealous Newcastle approach|
|Benitez hopeful ahead of Supercoppa|
|I nearly took Johnson off - Poyet|
|Johnson revels in derby late show|
|Juventus must maintain focus, warns Allegri|
|Newcastle United 0 Sunderland 1: Johnson settles derby|
|Carlos leaves Sivasspor post|
|Dundee United 2 Celtic 1: Ciftci inspires surprise win|
|Mourinho against use of independent panels|
|Hartlepool not interested in signing Evans|
|Reed delighted with first Southampton start|
|Bremen agree Oztunali loan|
|Irvine backs Ideye to end goal drought|
|Carrick backs Falcao to kick on|
|Dortmund will come back stronger, vows Klopp|
|Bojan senior slams Barcelona|
|Eredvisie title not won yet - Depay|
|Sterling eager to catch Arsenal cold|
|Monk: Ki will be sorely missed|
|Bruce looking to recall Hull duo from loan spells|
|Allardyce: Pearson deserves time|
|Sydney 0 Wellington Phoenix 2: Burns at the double|
|Real Madrid 2 San Lorenzo 0: Spanish giants complete triumphant 2014|
|McCoist: Departures sucking life out of Rangers|
|Hargreaves urges Sterling to stay put|
|Herediano 1 Deportivo Saprissa 1 (agg 3-5): Draw hands visitors consecutive titles|
|Tribulietx basks in Auckland City´s heroics|
|San Lorenzo´s Bauza applauds Ancelotti|
|Wenger: Sanchez a Footballer of the Year candidate|
|Chelsea like United´s treble-winning team - Hargreaves|
|Ancelotti: Copa del Rey victory inspired Real´s stunning run|
|La Liga Review: Catalan clubs triumph|