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Preview: Ahly eye revenge, first domestic double in nine years against rivals Zamalek

Egyptian league winners Ahly will be locking horns with arch-rivals Zamalek in the Egypt Cup final for the second season in a row

Omar Zaazou , Sunday 7 Aug 2016
Ahly vs Zamalek
Zamalek defeated Ahly 2-0 in the Egypt Cup final last year (Reuters)
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Ahly will be determined to exact revenge on reigning champions Zamalek, for last year's 2-0 Egypt Cup final defeat, when the arch-rivals lock horns once again in the competition's same stage on Monday.    

A brace from Zamalek striker Bassem Morsi, who is set to lead his side's frontline once again, condemned Ahly to the bitter defeat that completed a forgettable, trophy-less season for the Reds.

This will not be Ahly's sole motivation, however, as they will also be setting their sights on their first domestic double since 2007 – the very year that saw them claim their last Egypt Cup.

Curiously, that cup final did also see Ahly snatch the title from their upcoming opponents Zamalek in a memorable fashion, having come from behind more than once to eventually claim a thrilling 4-3 victory.  

Having reclaimed the domestic league title after losing their treasured trophy to Zamalek last season, Ahly will now be hoping that things would go their way in Monday's final.

Zamalek, on the other hand, have their own motivations to beat Ahly in the final, which they have now reached for the fifth consecutive time.

A fourth Egypt Cup title on the trot would surely amount to a historic achievement, as the Whites will be also keen to save their domestic season with a trophy.

With the team cruising to an emphatic 4-0 semi-final victory over bitter rivals Ismaily, Zamalek could not have hoped to enter the game against their perennial rivals in better condition.

Having been able to finally fill the void left by left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafi's departure with the signing of Ali Fathi, the Whites have now solved a long-standing problem just in time before their clash with Ahly.

The deployment of newly-signed centre-back Shawki El-Said in the right-back role against Ismaily demonstrated his defensive qualities – which Zamalek may quite need against a potentially dangerous Ahly left flank.

Similarly, Ahly were capable of benefiting from their recent summer signings, most notably Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul, who turned in a convincing performance in the semi-final 2-1 comeback win against ENPPI.

However, both clubs would have surely wished to field two particular signings this time, with Zamalek forward Stanley Ohawuchi suspended for the game and Ahly's Junior Ajayi taking part in Nigeria's Rio de Janeiro Olympic campaign.  

Aside from Ajayi, Ahly will be missing solid centre-back Ahmed Hegazy due to injury, with Saad Samir set to deputise, alongside striker John Antwi for the same reason.             

Likewise, Zamalek will have to do without playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim, who sustained a long-term ankle injury in a Champions League game a few weeks back, as well as centre-back Mohamed Koffi, who went AWOL in protest over the club's failure to pay him his late dues.

Zamalek’s interim manager has included returnee Ahmed Gaafar in the squad, but whether he will be featured remains unknown, with strikers Morsi and Emmanuel Mayuka likely to be given the nod ahead of the towering hitman.  

With both clubs now looking to beef up their squads following some dip in form throughout the season, each will be determined to assert their dominance in the upcoming game.

But whether Ahly manager Martin Jol will be able to guide them to the double remains to be seen, having been harshly criticised for some recent flops of late.  

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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