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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Preview: Ahly, Zamalek both hoping for an end-of-season boost at the Cairo derby

Ahram Online , Sunday 16 Jul 2017
Ahly V Zamalek
File Photo: Ahly and Zamalek players (Reuters)
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Ahly are set to host Zamalek in the Cairo derby at Borg Al-Arab stadium on Monday, and both sides are looking for a win for different reasons.

After securing the domestic league title one month earlier, Ahly will be looking for a morale-boosting victory that will confirm their superiority over their archrivals Zamalek, who also secured an African berth with their third place in the league table.

Winning the title is important for Ahly and their fans, but defeating Zamalek will please their fans more.

A win in Monday's clash will confirm that the team is on the right track after winning the domestic league and reaching the Champions League quarters.

Theoretically Ahly will have a good chance in the derby, and will be playing with a full squad.

Defender Ahmed Hegazy, who is on the verge of joining Premier League side West Bromwich, will be the only absentee.  

"Despite securing the league title, we will play Monday's derby with all our aces," Ahly's coach told the club's official website on Saturday.

"The Zamalek game is a championship on its own. The technical staff is taking it very seriously. Winning would complete the league title celebrations."

Another target for the newly crowned champions is to keep their local clean sheet, as Ahly are the only side who haven't suffered any defeat in the domestic league so far.

On the other hand, Zamalek will be looking for a consolation win on the final day of the season, hoping to capitalise on their recent win against Talae El-Geish in the Egypt Cup quarters on Thursday.

Thursday's win helped the team restore calm after a troubled week, which saw the team's elimination from the Champions League group stage and club president Mortada Mansour sacking manager Augusto Inacio, before reversing his decision.

Hours before the Egypt Cup game, Mansour accused the team's international keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy, who had missed the game, of faking an injury. Inacio tried to defend his keeper, arguing that he was suffering from a back injury.

The team is far from being on form, and they will have a tough mission against Ahly on Monday.

They will have to do without both El-Shennawy and Ayman Hefny, who is also injured. Both are key players, as is midfielder Ahmed Tawfik who will miss the game due to an automatic suspension.

Midfielders Tarek Hamed, Mahmoud Abdel-Atti and Salah Atef are also doubtful for the game as they have not fully recovered from different injuries.

Despite the difficulties that are facing the team ahead of the derby, the technical staff have voiced confidence regarding the capacity of the White Knights to win a positive result against Ahly.  

"Zamalek are fully ready for Ahly and we are aiming for a win. This is the least we can present to our loyal fans," said Zamalek’s football director Ismail Youssef on Sunday.   

The year 2007 remains the last time Zamalek managed to defeat Ahly in the league; the Red Devils fielded substitute players in their starting line-up, shortly after winning the league title.

 

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