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Saturday, 22 February 2020

Preview: Interim coach Zizo eyes Ahly full mark before new manager appointment

Caretaker coach Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Shafi 'Zizo' will be looking to make it two wins out of two against Ittihad before Ahly board's expected decision to name a new manager during the upcoming 10-day league break

Omar Zaazou , Friday 22 Jan 2016
Abdallah El-Said
Egypt and Ahly midfielder Abdallah El-Said
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Ahly will be eager to give interim boss Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Shafi 'Zizo' his second win in a row in the wake of the sudden departure of Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro, when they visit Alexandria's Ittihad in the Egyptian league on Saturday.

Having successfully managed to beat bitter rivals Ismaily 1-0, a match that came less than 48 hours after Peseiro's exit, Ahly will be looking for their second win ahead of the league's 10-day break.

Peseiro had abruptly requested to annul his Ahly deal on Monday night last week, citing heavy criticism he had been subject to as a chief reason behind his sudden decision.

The Ahly board, on the other hand, welcomed the 55-year-old's decision to quit the club after being consistently slated by their own fans for appointing a manager they were not entirely convinced of.

And Zizo, who also led Ahly to a pre-season 3-2 Egypt Super Cup win over Zamalek when being similarly on interim charge, did not disappoint on his first stern test, having passed with flying colors against the Dervishes.

A first-half free kick from playmaker Abdallah El-Said was just what Ahly needed to clinch the vital three points, which sent them top of the league temporarily before arch-rivals Zamalek came back to snatch the summit later on in the day.

Unlike the Ismaily clash, Ahly fans are not as concerned ahead of the visit to Ittihad, with several factors likely to give them an edge over the Alexandrians.

A convincing performance against Ismaily suggested that the Cairo giants have been hardly affected by the exit of Peseiro, who took over at giants Porto just one day after parting ways with Ahly.

Ittihad are also not the side currently enjoying their best of spells, having failed to bag a single win in their last three games – which included a 2-0 defeat by city rivals Smouha last week.

Skipper Hossam Ghaly, full-back Sabri Rahil, and striker John Antwi, who all started against Ismaily on Wednesday, have all been declared fit to play after sustaining minor injuries in the 1-0 win.

Ahly will also welcome the return of holding midfielder Hossam Ashour who served a one-match ban.

The Ahly board, which is yet to settle on the next manager, is believed to make a decision during the 10-day league stoppage, which comes due to the national team's commitments. 

The Reds are currently second of the league table on 29 points, just one off city rivals and reigning champions Zamalek.

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