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Friday, 24 May 2019

Preview: Chance for revenge as leaders Ahly meet Pyramids in mouthwatering clash

Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Apr 2019
Ahly
Pyramids beat Ahly 2-1 in the reverse league fixture in January (Ahram)
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Ahly, having climbed to the summit of the Egyptian Premier League table for the first time this season, face a stern test on Thursday to retain their position on top against a Pyramids side that have not thrown in the towel yet in an exciting three-horse race for the title.

The Red Devils' primiary target this season now lies in the league title, having bowed out of the African Champions League quarters with an embarassing 5-1 aggregate defeat by South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns. 

Vengeance will be also on Ahly's minds after Pyramids, a big-spending outfit that is owned by Saudi Turki Al-Sheikh, the former honorary president of Ahly, handed them a 2-1 defeat in January.

But since then, Ahly were boosted by some high-profile January signings who helped them win 11 out of their last 12 matches to move top with 58 points, one ahead of second-placed and bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek.

Pyramids, in contrast, have stuttered, but they recovered with four successive wins lately to keep alive their hopes of causing a huge upset and dethroning Ahly, the champions of the past three seasons.

They lie third on 57 points, although they have played two more matches than Ahly and Zamalek.

But should they overcome Ahly and then Zamalek in the following match, they will revive their hopes of competing for the title.

Ahly expressed their displeasure over a decision to hold the match behind closed doors, with the Egyptian Football Association saying security officials had refused to allow any fans to attend the anticipated game.

Some 5,000 supporters are permitted to attend league matches after a long-standing crowd ban was partially lifted earlier in the season.

Pyramids will miss a key player in Syria striker Omar Khribin, who was red-carded in the team's thrilling 3-2 victory over Ittihad of Alexandria last week.

Ahly will also make do without in-form winger Ramadan Sobhi, who was ruled out of the game because of injury.

Sobhi, on loan from English Premier League side Huddersfield Town, has been one of Ahly's best performers since joining in January.

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

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