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Friday, 22 November 2019

Preview: Egyptian league leaders Ahly need to be more efficient in final stretch

Ahram Online , Friday 10 May 2019
Ahly v Smouha
File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Ahly and Smouha (Ahram)
Views: 2961
Views: 2961

Ahly's domestic form has been superb since the turn of the year, but they need to improve their efficiency upfront to avoid dropping any points in their bid to be crowned Egyptian champions for a fourth straight year.

The Red Devils meet Alexandria-based club Smouha, who lie 13th in the table with only two points separating them from the relegation zone, on Saturday as they aim to continue their perfect domestic run.

Having lost only once in their last 16 games as some January signings have turned around their fortunes, Ahly moved top with 67 points from 29 games, two ahead of second-placed Pyramids (31 games) and four clear of third-placed and main challengers Zamalek (28 matches) in the final stretch of the season.

The winter acquisitions significantly increased their attacking options, allowing them to create a host of goal-scoring chances every league match.

However, their wastefulness has also been alarming, with their failure to kill off easy matches almost costing them on several occasions.

In a recent match against Talae El-Geish, Ahly needed a late goal from in-form Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul to win the tie 2-1 after spurning many clear-cut chances which if converted would have given them a comprehensive win.

In their previous match, they also only ensured their victory with a late goal from Ramadan Sobhi to defeat rock-bottom Nogoom 2-0, with their lack of cutting edge also obvious.

Smouha are managed by Egypt's all-time leading scorer Hossam Hassan, who was in charge of Pyramids when they defeated Ahly 2-1 last January. He is tasked with helping the club avoid relegation after a poor season.

Ahly have no injury worries apart from long-term absentees Saad Samir and Karim Walid.

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