Ahly defeat Arab Contractors 1-0 in the Egyptian Premier League to give Pitso Mosimane a winning start (Photo: Al-Ahram)
A first-half penalty from Amr El-Sulaya gave Ahly's new coach Pitso Mosimane a winning start as the Egyptian Premier League champions eked out a 1-0 victory over Arab Contractors on Sunday.
El-Sulaya's spot kick five minutes before the break proved the difference as South African boss Mosimane enjoyed his first win after replacing Swiss Rene Weiler on Thursday.
Despite the victory, which was coupled with another clean sheet, Mosimane must have realized he has some work to do to shore up a defence that is breached far too easily, especially from long balls.
Shortage of options at the back has also forced the 56-year-old to field natural right-back Ahmed Fathi in an unfamiliar role on the left.
The only downside to Ahly's win was an injury in-form goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi picked up in the first half which saw him make way for Ali Lotfi, less than two weeks before the team's mouthwatering clash against Morocco's Wydad in the African Champions League semifinal.
Ahly, who were crowned champions with six rounds to spare last month, have 82 points with three matches remaining. The hopes of fourth-placed Contractors to earn a runners-up spot almost ended as they lie nine points behind second-placed Zamalek.
Mosimane stuck to the 4-2-3-1 formation used by his predecessor, with Ahly pressing their opponents high up the pitch in the early stages.
They had some half chances through long range shots as they found it difficult to carve out clear openings but still managed to go ahead on 40 minutes.
Winger Mahmoud Kahraba was tripped by Farouck Kabore after he skipped past the Burkinabe defender, with the referee pointing to the spot after a VAR review. Contractors keeper Mahmoud Aboul-Saoud got a hand to El-Sulaya's effort but could not prevent it from going in.
Contractors were slightly the better side in the second half and could have levelled the score on 53 minutes when Colombian forward Luis Hinestroza outpaced central defender Ayman Ashraf to break clear after running onto a long ball, only to see his angled shot blocked by stand-in keeper Lotfi.
Ahly also had an opportunity of their own shortly after, a back-heel pass from Kahraba releasing off-form Senegalese striker Aliou Badji, whose tame effort was saved by Aboul-Saoud.
Lotfi missed a long ball after charging out to clear the danger but Contractors forward Mohamed Salem could not pounce as two defenders closed him down. The referee initially awarded a penalty, only to change his mind after a VAR review.
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