Cairo giants Ahly will be facing a tough test to get a step closer to the Egyptian league title when they face rivals Masry on Monday in a postponed match from the domestic competition.
The Red Devils lead the league table with 71 points, five ahead of second-placed and reigning champions Zamalek, while Port Said-based club Masry lie in fourth position on 49 points.
Winning on Monday will allow Ahly, who won the last four league matches, to extend the gap with rivals Zamalek and to enhance the chances of winning the club's 38th league title.
Beating Masry will also be a good boost for the Reds ahead of their opening match against Zambian club Zesco in the group stage of the CAF Champions League on 18 June.
On the other side, costal side Masry, headed by former Egypt and Ahly star Hossam Hassan, will be aiming to continue the recent outstanding performances to end the competition among the top four.
Ahly and Masry met earlier this season in a league game that ended with a 2-2 draw.
For Monday's match Ahly will be missing some key players like attacking midfielder Abdallah El-Said and Defender Ahmed Hegazy due to shoulder and muscular injuries respectively.
Striker Amr Gamal also won't be available after undergoing minor nose surgery, while veteran right-winger Ahmed Fathi will be absent due to suspension.
Ahly coach Martin Jol believes that beating Masry will be a crucial step towards the title especially as the title race ends after three matches.
"The Masry match will be a difficult one. We study them well as we know it is a strong team with good players," Ahly coach Martin Jol told reporters on Sunday.
"Beating Masry will make our mission easier as later we will need only one win to clinch the title and also the victory will be vital to boost the players' moral ahead of the Champions League match," he added.
Meanwhile, Masry coach Hossam Hassan, who enjoys a full-strength squad, has asked his players to be cautious and fully concentrated, insisting that they will play only to win against Ahly.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)