Monday, December 11, 2017

USM Alger v El Hilal: Visitors still hopeful of reaching final

El Hilal coach Nabil Al Kouki insisted the Sudanese champions have not given up hope of reaching the CAF Champions League final.

Al Kouki and Co. must overturn a deficit after suffering a 2-1 first-leg defeat at home to USM Alger on Sunday.

El Hilal took a second-minute lead through Mudather El Tahir before the Algerian visitors hit back via Mohamed Aoudia eight minutes later and Karim Baiteche completed the comeback past the hour-mark in Omdurman.

Al Kouki accepted blame for the home loss but the Tunisian remains upbeat about his team’s chances ahead of Saturday’s return leg.

“We have not lost the hope to qualify for the final. I take full responsibility for the loss,” Al Kouki said via Cafonline.com.

“The second leg will be difficult but not impossible.

“We did not deserve to lose, and we wasted a lot of chances.”

Two-time runners-up El Hilal travel to Stade Omar Hamadi de Bologhine in Algiers counting on their away form to get them over the line.

El Hilal are unbeaten in 13 matches on the road in all competitions, while they have only lost one of their past 22 away games.

USM Alger – seeking to reach the final for the first time in their history – are wary of El Hilal’s away record.

“We have not qualified yet and we have to wait for the second leg,” said USM Alger coach Miloud Hamdi.

“I will put in place the appropriate strategy for the return leg because El Hilal plays well in away matches.”

The winner will face either Al Merreikh or TP Mazembe in the decider.

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