Agusti Julbe

Al Ahly carry a weight of expectation at the BAL

Julbe expects a competitive Ferroviario outfit

AL Ahly are a team familiar with success and the weight of expectation to always win continues in a similar vein.

On Wednesday night at Hassan Mostafa Arena, Al Ahly, one of Egypt’s storied teams and hosts of the Basketball Africa League’s (BAL) Nile Conference, will also be making a first appearance in season three of the continent’s elite league.

Despite being newbies to the competition, it is understandable why Al Ahly would be deemed the favourite to emerge from their conference and contend for the BAL title.

Said Saifeldin
Al Ahly captain Said Saifeldin says his team is motivated to win the BAL. Pictures: The BTO

The name they carry, their six Egyptian Super League titles, their ten Egyptian Cup trophies, and solitary continental club championship testify to the club’s greatness.

In Agustin Julbe, Al Ahly have a coach who has been through demanding situations, and who understands the pressure to succeed on the Egyptian club.

The Spaniard’s won the first edition of the BAL with his current team’s eternal rivals, Zamalek. On Wednesday night, as Al Ahly begin their BAL journey against Ferroviario de Beira of Mozambique, they will know anything less than replicating Zamalek’s feats is a failure.

“Pressure will always be there. There is pressure from the environment, the club and the fans. There is also internal pressure we are placing on ourselves. It’s always there, but we are excited to be here. It’s Al Ahly’s first time in the competition, and I am happy we have this opportunity,” said Julbe at the press briefing at Hassan Mostafa Arena on Tuesday.

“I don’t know how Ferroviario will look like, but it is also the same with the other teams. They all made some adjustments going into this BAL. So, it is difficult to say what they will do, but I expect them to be competitive like they were in the Road To BAL.

“I know the coach, and I know their system. They will be a tough team, but I expect the best from ourselves as we also want to win.”

Team captain Said Seifeldin is also aware of the demands of participating in the BAL and believes the experience of Julbe will help them navigate the new terrain.

“As players of this team, we always strive to compete and win. We want to make our fans happy by trying to win all the games and competitions. The experience of our coach and that of our players will help us. Hopefully, at the end of the day we can make our fans happy by winning this tournament,” the Al Ahly skipper.

Seifeldin also spoke on his team’s chemistry ahead of Nile Conference. He believes that because of the time they spent together as players, the atmosphere within the squad is exceptional. He hopes this will provide them with a conducive platform for Al Ahly to win the BAL.

“As teammates, we have played together for a number of years. We were friends off the court before we became friends on it,” said Seifeldin. “We hope to win this tournament. It is the only trophy that is missing. We are motivated because the competition has a big brand behind it, and hopefully it will push us to win it.”


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