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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Preview: Ahly eyeing Super Cup triumph to make 'great start' to 2018

Ahram Online , Thursday 11 Jan 2018
Ahly midfielder Hossam Ashour in action with Masry players during the 2017 Egypt Cup final (Photo: Reuters)
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Ahly are hoping to mark the start of what they hope will be a "great year" by beating bitter rivals Masry in the Egyptian Super Cup in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

The Red Devils lost to Cairo foes Zamalek in last year's Super Cup and are determined to make amends by overcoming a stubborn Masry side, whom they also met in the Egypt Cup final last summer.

In August, Masry looked close to causing an upset after taking a 1-0 extra-time lead in the final, only for Ahly to stage a remarkable comeback with two goals in the last three minutes to complete their first domestic double in 10 years.

"We will our best to win the Super Cup. It will be a great start of the year, especially since we want to overcome our loss in the same competition last year [against Zamalek]," Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry told reporters on Tuesday.

"Masry is a tough opponent. They are hungry for a triumph. We faced off in strong matches, including the Egypt Cup final, where they lost. I am sure they are seeking revenge."

Ahly are buoyed by their recent 3-0 Cairo derby win over Zamalek which briefly lifted them to the league summit before Ismaily regained their position on top with a 3-2 win over Nasr on Tuesday, although Ahly still have a game in hand.

Masry were knocked out of the Egypt Cup this season but are having a fine run in the domestic league, lying third with 30 points from 17 matches, nine behind Ahly.

Ahly will need to address their shortage of options in defence after Rami Rabia was ruled out of the Masry game because of an injury he sustained against Zamalek.

Saad Samir, the other regular defender, is also out, leaving El-Badry with little options. The manager is likely to field versatile midfielder Mohamed Hani in the centre along with natural left-back Ayman Ashraf.

Masry are missing Burkinabe towering striker Aristide Bance, who went AWOL for the second time this season, saying he had to leave Egypt for family reasons.

Friday's meeting, whcih will take place at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain city,  is the third consecutive Super Cup game to be played in the UAE. 

Ahly are the record Egyptian Super Cup winners with nine titles. Masry have never appeared in the competition, which was inaugurated in 2001.

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