A man, who was hotly tipped to take over the coaching post at Kaizer Chiefs but elected to accept the Al Ahly job instead when the Amakhosi appeared to drag their feet, has guided the Egyptian giants to the CAF Champions League final.
Patrice Carteron revealed in an interview from Cairo this week that people who represented Kaizer Chiefs approached him while he was coaching Phoenix Rising in the United States Soccer League and they engaged in negotiations.
“After engaging in discussions for quite a lengthy period,” said Carteron, “there was indecisiveness from Chiefs and at that time Al Ahly had also tabled an offer, which I had delayed in signing. But when I could not get a definitive answer from South Africa, I joined Al Ahly in June.”
Carteron stressed that he was not bitter or disappointed, because he is aware that in this game you cannot afford to muddy the waters as the same pond could prove to be the only source of water available for you in the future.
Chiefs ended up signing former Free State Stars Italian coach Giovanni Solinas and while they have not had the best of starts, Al Ahly have lost only once in nine starts of the domestic championship and will contest the Champions League final against Esperance on Friday.
Carteron has been here before, with TP Mazembe as he guided the Lubumbashi Ravens to a convincing 4-1 aggregate victory over Algerian side USM Alger to win the lucrative Pan African club competition during 2015.
However, Carteron did not want to dwell too much on the past. He is a shrewd tactician and is acutely aware that although they have defeated the same Esperance 1-0 on aggregate during this year’s group stages, the Tunisians would be a different kettle of fish altogether.
“They have studied us as much as we have studied them. They know us as much as we know them but we are confident that we can win this tournament. We must impose our style on them on Friday and manage the second leg match in Tunis next week.”
When he arrived in Cairo to replace Hossam El Badry following Al Ahly’s shock 2-0 capitulations at the hands of Ugandan side KCCA, Carteron shuffled the team around slightly and brought in a Nigerian striker and Malian defender.
He signed Salif Coulibaly (Mali) and Junior Ajayi (Nigeria) while South African attacker Phakamani Mahlambi did not seem to feature in his plans and was eventually shipped out to Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Red Devils appears to have a slight advantage in the first leg over the Blood and gold who applied intimidating tactics and poor officiating against Angolan champions Primeiro de Agosto, allied to a pitch invasion saw them reach this stage of the competition.
Walid Azaro, the man who scored the solitary goal in the group stages against Esperance, could once again prove to be their worst nightmare on Friday night.