Ahly's looming Egyptian Premier League title celebrations could be delayed after they produced another below-par display to allow bottom side Sharqeya to snatch a surprise 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Victories over Sharqeya and nearest challengers Maqassa in their next game would have given Ahly an unassailable lead at the top with four matches remaining but they were held by their struggling opponents after another performance devoid of any creativity.
The sudden stumble comes a few days after Ahly made a disappointing start to their African Champions League group-stage campaign, failing to break down Zambia's Zanaco in a 0-0 home draw last Saturday.
Central defender Saad Samir, one of their top formers this season, gave Ahly the lead against Sharqeya on the stroke of halftime after heading home a corner from Abdallah El-Said.
However, Ahly failed to kill off the match and were punished with nine minutes remaining when substitute Fady Farid headed into the bottom corner following an angled free kick.
The draw will do coach Hossam El-Badry no favours after he was heavily criticised by Ahly's faithful for saying he had received two offers from unnamed clubs in the United Arab Emirates and North Africa.
Although El-Badry and Ahly chairman Mahmoud Taher played down speculation that the 57-year-old could leave the club in the summer, rumours continue to swirl over his fate.
Despite the latest draw, Ahly are unlikely to face a serious challenge from Maqassa for the title, which they are hoping to win for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
The Red Devils are on top with 75 points from 29 games, 12 clear of Maqassa who have a match in hand and face Ittihad of Alexandria on Monday. Ahly and Maqassa meet in a top-of-the-table clash at the end of the month.
Chances were at a premium in a dull affair but Ahly went to the locker room 1-0 up, with Samir rising high to head home an in-swinging corner from El-Said.
Substitute Amr Gamal missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 on 78 minutes and Sharqeya equalised from their first real attempt three minutes later.
Farid towered at the near post to glance a header past Ahly goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy following a floated free kick from fellow substitute Mahmoud Afrotto.
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