Preview: No room for slip-ups as Ahly face Smouha in Egyptian league

Ahram Online , Saturday 3 Jul 2021

Ahly need to win seven straight games to overtake Zamalek on top of the Egyptian Premier League table

Ahly v Smouha
Smouha defeated Ahly 2-1 in the reverse league fixture in April (Ahram)

Ahly's thrilling 2-2 draw with Pyramids FC leaves little room for more slip-ups as they seek to win their rescheduled games to bridge a 19-point gap with leaders Zamalek and overtake them on top.

A dreadful stoppage-time blunder from the otherwise in-form keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi allowed Pyramids to snatch a draw at the death on Thursday, with Ahly stumbling on the first of a hectic run of fixtures.

Ahly, who are gearing up for the African Champions League final later this month, will be keen to beat Smouha on Sunday and win six more games to topple Zamalek.

Should they draw any of those seven games, they will be level on points with perennial rivals Zamalek on top.

Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane played down the significance of the draw against Pyramids, saying his side must move on and focus on the task ahead of them.

"We played 10 against 11 against Esperance (in Champions League semi-final), but tonight we could not control the game. You have to accept and move on. Football gives you lessons and this happens to big teams," the South African boss told a news conference.

"We were very unlucky in two moments tonight. Maaloul missed a penalty and our captain made a big mistake. Unlike last week, as I saw them shined."

Smouha are likely to pose a threat to Ahly, having been one of only two teams to beat the Cairo giants this season.

In the reverse league meeting in April, Smouha struck at the death following another mistake from El-Shennawi to claim a stunning 2-1 victory.

The Alexandria-based club are known for their dangerous breakaways this season, with the likes of wingers Mostafa Fathi and Ahmed Abdel-Kader, who are on loan from Zamalek and Ahly respectively, causing menace to backlines with their pace and trickery.

Smouha are competing for an African Confederation Cup spot as they lie fourth in the table on 40 points.

Ahly will miss key central defender Badr Benoun against Smouha due to automatic suspension. Right-backs Mohamed Hani and Ahmed Ramadan are also still injured.

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