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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Preview: Ahly face old rivals Ismaily in vital Egyptian league game

Ahram Online , Tuesday 21 May 2019
Ahly v Ismaily
File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Ahly and Ismaily (Ahram)
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An in-form Ahly side will edge closer to a fourth straight Egyptian Premier League title should they overcome one of the few obstacles standing in their way -- rivals Ismaily.

Both sides meet on Wednesday in what has always been a heated duel, although tensions have notably eased over the past few years after Ismaily's form faded.

However, the Dervishes are still a force to be reckoned with, having drawn 1-1 with Ahly in the opening game of the season in August last year after leading for most of the game.

But Ismaily's season has been disappointing, as they exited the African Champions League in embarrassing fashion and failed to challenge for a top-four finish in the domestic league. They now lie seventh in the table with 41 points from 31 matches.

Ahly, on the other hand, lead the table with 73 points, seven ahead of second-placed and Cairo foes Zamalek, who have two matches in hand. The Red Devils will wrap up the title if they win their remaining matches against Ismaily, Arab Contractors and Zamalek.

"We need nine more points to complete our comeback and win the league," said Ahly's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz, referring to the fact that his side bridged a seven-point gap with Zamalek after their January signings turned around their fortunes.

"This vital period requires full concentration and high spirits from all the players."

Ahly will miss defensive midfielder Hamdi Fathi due to suspension, while Ismaily have a fully-fit squad to choose from.

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

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