What you need to know:
- It is the second successive title decider between the north African giants and third in seven seasons, with Wydad are seeking a hat-trick after two triumphs
Johannesburg. South African winger Percy Tau could be a key figure when Al Ahly of Egypt host Wydad Casablanca of Morocco on Sunday in the CAF Champions League final first leg.
It is the second successive title decider between the north African giants and third in seven seasons, with Wydad are seeking a hat-trick after two triumphs.
Ahly hope stars like Tau can turn the tide and give the Cairo Red Devils a record-extending 11th victory in the premier African club competition.
Tau, who joined Ahly from Premier League outfit Brighton two years ago, was outstanding in the semi-final victory over another leading north African outfit, Esperance of Tunisia.
He scored twice in a 3-0 away victory and created the only goal of the return match for Hussein el Shahat with a superb pass from the centre circle.
A repeat of this form on Sunday, and in Casablanca on June 11, will spell trouble for three-time Champions League title-holders Wydad.
While many South Africans were disappointed that the 29-year-old failed to make the grade in the Premier League after three loan spells in Belgium, Tau called the switch to Ahly a "dream move".
"To represent Ahly is a dream come true. They are giants, winning 23 African competitions, including the Champions League 10 times," he said.
"Putting on the Ahly jersey means representing a football dynasty. No matter who we face there is only one thought -- victory. Success is embedded in the Ahly DNA."
Tau has scored four Champions League goals this season, including one in an embarrassing 5-2 group loss at former club Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.
"Losing so heavily made that a horrible day for us, but we recovered brilliantly, winning five of our subsequent six matches and drawing the other," added Tau.
Tau is no stranger to Champions League finals, winning with Sundowns in 2016 and losing with Ahly at Wydad last year in a single-match decider marred by a venue row.
Ahly wanted the game staged at a neutral venue rather than the home ground of the Moroccans, but after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland failed, they had to comply.
A wonder goal from Zouhair el Moutaraji set up a 2-0 victory for Wydad and he is part of the first-leg squad.
Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck, the fourth coach of Wydad this season, accepts that Ahly will be desperate to avenge the 2022 beating.
"Ahly will be going all out for revenge after what happened last season. So, it is vital that I and my squad remain calm and unified. I think certain individual battles will play key roles.
"I am not feeling any pressure because it is logical to try and win every competition when you become coach of a great club like Wydad.
"I am hoping for the same outcome as last season. There is little to choose between Wydad and Ahly and playing at home in the second leg could give us a slight edge."
His Ahly counterpart, Swiss Marcel Koller, was angry in the build-up to the first leg after an unimpressive 1-0 win for the Egyptian Premier League leaders over mid-table Ceramic on Monday.
"The only good thing about that game was winning it," said the 62-year-old former Austria manager, who is working in Africa for the first time having moved to Cairo last year.
"If we show the same lack of concentration and sloppy defending against Wydad on Sunday, we will be in trouble."
Koller probably had Bouly Sambou in mind when warning his defence -- the giant Senegalese has netted seven times for Wydad to be joint leading scorer in the Champions League.
An added incentive for both clubs to succeed is the record four million dollars (3,7 million euros) first prize -- up from $2.5 million last season.