CAF Champions League: Five facts as North Africa dominates

CAF Champions League facts and figures ahead of the first leg of the final between Al Ahly of Egypt and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in Cairo on Sunday:

Prolific Sambou
Both finalists have played 12 matches to reach the title decider with Ahly winning eight, drawing two and losing two and Wydad winning six, drawing three and losing three.

Ahly have scored 24 goals en route to their 16th Champions League final — seven more than Wydad — while both sides conceded 12.

Senegalese Bouly Sambou has netted seven times for Wydad, making him the joint Champions League chart-topper this season, and Mahmoud Kahraba is the leading Ahly scorer with five.

Elusive treble
Ahly have appeared in a record 15 Champions League finals from 1982, winning 10, including back-to-back titles on three occasions.

No side has won the premier African club competition three times in a row, but the Cairo Red Devils twice came close by reaching three straight finals.

They were foiled in 2007 when Tunisian outfit Etoile Sahel scored a stunning 3-1 second-leg triumph in Cairo, and again last season when beaten 2-0 at Wydad in a single-match title decider.

History beckons
History beckons for Marcel Koller of Ahly or Sven Vandenbroeck of Wydad as no Swiss or Belgian coach has won the CAF Champions League

Former Austria manager Koller, 62, succeeded South African Pitso Mosimane last year for his first assignment in Africa and has won the Egyptian Super Cup twice and the Egyptian FA Cup.

Vandenbroeck, 43, was assistant coach of 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon and became the fourth boss of Wydad this season when hired last month.

Bogey team
Wydad have made a habit of defeating Ahly and losing to Tunisian club Esperance in five Champions League finals appearances, three of which they won.

They overcame the Egyptians 2-1 over two legs in 2017 and 2-0 in a single match last year, which was

marred by controversy with Ahly demanding a neutral venue, but forced to play in Casablanca.

The Moroccans lost to Esperance in 2010, and in 2019 when they walked off in the second half of the return match after a disallowed goal could not be reviewed due to a broken VAR machine.

North dominate
The 2023 Champions League final will be the 10th in 20 years to feature two clubs from the northern region of Africa, which comprises Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Teams from the north have won 14 of the finals in that period with Ahly (seven titles), Esperance (three) and Wydad (two) leading the way.

The only final among the last 20 not to feature a team from North Africa was in 2009 when TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo edged Heartland of Nigeria on away goals.