Egypt's goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary (Reuters)
Egypt keeper Essam El-Hadary has been dismissed from the Wadi Degla squad for the game against Ahly in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday for misconduct after he quarrelled with the team's second choice goalie Khaled Walid during trainings.
El-Hadary was expected to face a stern test against Egyptian League leaders Ahly, as he would have been tasked with keeping a seventh straight clean sheet for Wadi Degla. The teams will face off at Cairo's Petrosport Stadium on Thursday.
Following a superb Cup of Nations campaign with Egypt, who eventually lost the title after a 2-1 defeat to Cameroon in the final, 44-year-old El-Hadary had hoped to retain his position in the Pharaohs' goal.
After winning the preference of Egypt manager Hector Cuper to stand between the sticks in the two opening World Cup qualifying wins over Congo and Ghana, El-Hadary seemed to have fallen down the pecking order for the Nations' Cup.
Ahmed El-Shennawi started for Egypt in the opening Nations' Cup fixture against Mali, but an early injury meant former Ahly keeper El-Hadary was summoned to replace the Zamalek keeper.
From thereon, El-Hadary continued to impress, keeping a clean sheet throughout the group-stage and the 1-0 quarter-final victory over Morocco.
Despite conceding in the semis against Burkina Faso, El-Hadary still proved crucial in his side's qualification for the final with a standout performance in the penalty shootouts.
The veteran keeper looked a little shaky in the final defeat to Cameroon, but will no doubt be determined to stay in top form for Egypt's first competitive match against Tunisia in the Cup of Nations qualifiers in June.
A meeting with defending champions Ahly will not be an easy test for Wadi Degla, with the Reds expected to dominate possession and pile on pressure from the start.
The return of Egypt teammate Abdallah El-Said is likely to give Ahly a further boost in midfield, with the playmaker's creativity allowing the Reds to see more of the goal.
Forwards Junior Ajayi and Amr Gamal are available to lead Ahly's line. However, the introduction of veteran striker Emad Meteb could give Ahly strong penalty-box presence, following his goal in the 2-0 win against Arab Contractors Monday, barely a minute after coming off the bench.
New winter-signings Ahmed Hamoudi and Souleymane Coulibaly continue to miss out, with Ahly boss Hossam El-Badry seemingly not ready to give them playing time in their first weeks at the club.
Ahly are currently in charge of the league table on 49 points, eight ahead of second-placed Maqassa. Wadi Degla, managed by former Zamalek manager and ex-Tottenham striker Ahmed Hossam Mido, are eighth in the table.
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