Preview: New recruit El-Sheikh may make first Ahly appearance in Egyptian league

Ahram Online , Saturday 2 Jan 2016

Ahmed El-Sheikh
Ahly playmaker Ahmed El-Sheikh (Ahram)

Playmaker Ahmed El-Sheikh, who made a big-money summer move to Ahly by Egyptian standards, is in line to finally make his first appearance with the club when they face El-Entag El-Harby in a league game on Sunday.

El-Sheikh is one of several prominent recruits who left Ahly's fans puzzled over why they had not been given a chance in the early stages of the season, especially given that the club lost twice and drew once in their first eight games.

Local reports suggested Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro is not convinced that El-Sheikh, who joined Ahly from Maqassa for LE8.5 million, is good enough to play on a regular basis and the 23-year-old will have a chance to prove him wrong against Entag.

Other new arrivals who fell out of favour with Peseiro are Ghanaian striker John Antwi, who was expected to form a potent partnership with Gabon's Malick Evouna upfront, and deep-lying forward Hamdi Zaki.

Both were left out of the squad for Entag game, with Peseiro still favouring the old guard despite Ahly's failure last season to win any major trophy for the first time since 2004.

Central defender Mohamed Naguib and promising midfielder Ahmed Hamdi are also out due to injuries.

Ahly still need to settle on their best starting line-up as they seek to make up for a disappointing season that saw them surrender the league title to bitter rivals Zamalek after winning the competition for eight straight reasons.

However, they are plagued by administrative problems after a court ruling dissolved the club's board of directors that was elected in 2014. The verdict was suspended on appeal but it remains to be seen whether incumbent chairman Mahmoud Taher will remain in his position.

Sunday's opponents Entag signed several veterans in the close season, including former Borussia Dortmund forward Mohamed Zidan and Egypt's 2010 Nations Cup hero Gedo, but they made a disappointing start that saw them only collect 11 points from as many games.

They also said they were likely to rescind the contract of Zidan after criticizing his commitment.

Ahly lie eighth in the table with 16 points from eight games, six behind leaders Maqassa who played four games more.

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