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Taha Up Against Walid: A Duel of the Best Strikers in North Africa

The best strikers in North Africa face off this Friday in an exciting duel.

When the whistle is blown and proceedings begin to unravel, all eyes will be on the goal-monsters facing off for the third time in nine months.

Might be this encounter be a Messi versus Ronaldo North African version? Both are proven goal-getters and have such a cool finishing with the goal at their mercy.

Each netted for his club at the Stade Olympique Rades in the quarter-finals of their meeting last year as Walid and Al Ahly eventually sailed to the semis then to the finals.

Taha was the bitter one at end of that wrangle but now has the chance to alter the narrative.

The ES marksman was accorded bit of a sabbatical after he missed out on Tunisia’s World Cup squad through injury to allow for his quick recuperation.

That was achieved, but gaffer Ben Yahia’s initiative not to field him until halfway through the ongoing Arab Cup games is a testament to how crucial he is in the coach’s plans to plot Ahly’s downfall.

Biting the dust to Ahly wouldn’t be an appealing reality the Esperance board would want to face, making Friday’s game a must-watch.

Heads rolled in the aftermath of Esperance’s exit last campaign and gaffer Kaled Ben Yahia doesn’t fancy walking that path.

He will be counting on main-man Khenissi to deliver the blows during the game. Like his nemesis at the other end of the goal mouth, pace is one thing he seems not to lack. He is not a box of tricks but can leave defenders in his wake with his direct plays.

From nutmeg goals to headers, he has scored them all. Adding glamour to his game, his pumping-fist-in-the-air trademark celebration is unmistakable to local Tunisian fans.

A potent in the box, the 26-year-old, included in Ducor Sports top four most lethal strikers to watch out for in North last year, has the experience to count on.

With a habit of delivering in big games, the visiting Egyptians can expect the unexpected. The Zarzis-born was not integral in the Esperance side that clinched the Champions League title in 2011 making his eagerness to want to get a taste of such a triumph even bigger.

To realize that dream, he must first rise up to the occasion to headline his outfit’s attempt at seeking revenge against a side that has in its ranks a striker as lethal as he can be.

The Chinese Super League was first perceived as a retirement home for aging footballers but that storyline has shifted recently with the signing of high profile young players. Walid was one of that earmarked to lead that revival and that explains why Hebei China Fortune FC took the trouble to fork out in excess of $11.7 million to secure his service.

One of the things that attracted Hebei to the centre-forward is the Moroccan’s ability to score even with a half chance and this trait will be crucial in what will determine the outcome of Friday’s game.

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