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Saturday, 25 May 2019

Preview: Champions Ahly eye first league victory against rivals Masry

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul, Monday 6 Aug 2018
Ahly's striker Walid Azaro (Reuters)
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Views: 1893

Reigning champions Ahly will be eyeing their first victory in the Egyptian Premier League’s new season when they face fierce rivals Masry on Tuesday in the second round of the domestic competition.

The Reds were held to a 1-1 draw in Thursday's opening match against last season's runners-up Ismaily.

Masry, who ended last season in third place, have had a solid start to this season, after beating Gouna 1-0 in their opening game.

Ahly will get a welcome boost from the return of a trio of key players: Ahmed Fathi, Walid Soliman, Hossam Ashour, all of whom missed the Ismaily match due to injuries.

Injured winger Eslam Mohareb will however be a prominent absentee.

Under the guidance of veteran coach Hossam Hassan, Masry won't be an easy opponent, according to Ahly boss Patrice Carteron, who avoided a defeat in his league debut against Ismaily thanks to a last-gasp goal by second-half substitute Mohamed Sherif.

"We respect all our opponents, and, as I said before, all matches are difficult, especially as all teams seek to win against Ahly," Carteron was quoted as saying by Egyptian media on Sunday.

"Masry is among the good teams. I follow them and their recent matches. They have good technical staff headed by Hossam Hassan and that will make our mission more difficult," he added.

On the other side, former Egypt skipper and Ahly star Hossam Hassan hinted that he could deploy the same strategy used by Ismaily coach Khaireddine Madhoui against Ahly.

"Madhoui's strategy to push from the midfield against Ahly was a nice one. That managed to stop the movement of Ahly's defence duo Ali Maaloul and Mohamed Hani on many occasions. Also the ball rarely reached dangerous striker Walid Azaro," Hassan told Reuters on Monday.

"We could use a part of this strategy against Ahly, but that may not suit us, especially amid the presence of Ahly's many skilful players who can change the playing style at any time.”

Masry could lead the league table early on if they defeat Ahly, as the latter's arch-rivals Zamalek currently lead the table with four points from two matches.

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