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Preview: New-look Ahly open Egyptian league title defence against lowly Ragaa

Ahly have an easy mission against minnows Ragaa to kick off their league campaign in style

Omar Zaazou , Wednesday 1 Oct 2014
Al Ahly
Moussa Yedan (C) of Egypt's Al-Ahli celebrates after scoring a goal against Cameroon's Coton Sport during their Confederations Cup semi-final soccer match at Cairo stadium, September 28, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

A new-look Ahly side start the defence of their Egyptian Premier League title against minnows Ragaa away from home on Thursday.

Due to participating in the Egypt Super Cup and the African Confederation Cup semis, Ahly have been forced to begin league play four weeks after the start of the competition. As they look to defend their league title, they will begin league play against a side who narrowly survived relegation last season.

Summer-signings Hussein El-Sayed, Sherif Hazem, Islam Roshdy, Mohamed Farouk and Mohamed Rezk are all set for their league debuts after being included in manager Juan Garrido's squad.

Right-back Bassem Ali, however, will not be completing the list of newcomers, as he was hit with a one-month ban after signing for two clubs simultaneously.

Of all the aforementioned new signings, only playmaker Mohamed Farouk and central midfielder Mohamed Rezk will be familiar faces to Ahly's fans – with the former appearing in the Confederation Cup and the latter making his debut in the Super Cup.

Khasiry ruled out, Saladin injured

Spanish coach Garrido, opted to rule out midfield trio Ramadan Sobhi, Karim Bambo and Ahmed Khairy, despite the latter featuring in both legs of Ahly's Confederation Cup semifinal 3-1 aggregate win against Coton Sport.

Khairy was selected against Coton to deputise for regular holding midfielder Hossam Ashour, who missed both matches due to suspension.

But now as Ashour returns to fill in his spot in front of the back four, former Ismaily man Khairy looks to have fallen out of favor following unimpressive play against the Cameroonians at home.

Ahly will welcome back striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher in the league after the end of his loan stint at Libya's Ittihad Tripoli following his controversial four-finger gesture in last season's Champions League final.

The Reds, however, will have to do without Ethiopia striker Saladin Said due to a calf injury that will keep him out for a period between four and six weeks.

Despite making his comeback from a long-term injury against Coton, defender Sherif Abdel-Fadil is set for another two-week spell on the sidelines due to a calf problem.  

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


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