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Thursday, 16 August 2018

Preview: World Cup euphoria still engulfs Egypt as Ahly resume league action

Ahram Online , Wednesday 11 Oct 2017
Ahly (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Ahly were held to a 1-1 draw by Talae El-Geish in their opening Egyptian Premier League game last month (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Ahly, busy with their African Champions League commitments, will only play their second Egyptian Premier League game on Thursday as the euphoria of Egypt's qualification for the World Cup still engulfs the football-mad country.

The Pharaohs made it to the Russia finals for the first time since 1990 with one match to spare in Group E when a Mohamed Salah double, including a stoppage-time penalty, gave them a dramatic 2-1 victory at home to Congo on Sunday.

Egypt's line-up against Congo included three players from Ahly - versatile defender Ahmed Fathi, centre back Rami Rabia and playmaker Saleh Gomaa.

With the country still in a festive mood, the Red Devils return to league action against Ittihad of Alexandria with an eye on an anticipated African Champions League semi final second-leg clash at home to Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel.

Ahly will be looking to overturn a 2-1 first-leg defeat in Sousse when they host Etoile at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium and their match against Ittihad might be a good preparation for the more important encounter for the team's demanding supporters.

Given their Champions League commitments, Ahly, who are eyeing a third straight league title, only played one game and had three other matches rescheduled.

Their only match was a disappointing 1-1 draw against Talae El-Geish last month.

Ahly will have to do without influential playmaker Abdallah El-Said when they face Ittihad.

El-Said is still nursing a hamstring injury that kept him out of Egypt's World Cup qualifying victory over Congo.

National team exertions also saw Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry leave Fathi out of the Ittihad match. Tunisia's left-back Ali Maaloul, who played the full 90 minutes of the Carthage Eagles' impressive 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Guinea on Saturday, is also absent.

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

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