Preview: Ahly aim to atone for shock defeat in Egyptian Premier League

Ahram Online, Friday 17 Oct 2014

Ahly

Defending champions Ahly will be looking to quickly recover from a stunning opening defeat when they meet Ittihad El-Shorta in a rescheduled match on Saturday as the Egyptian Premier League resumes following an international break.

The Red Devils, who are eyeing a ninth successive league title, have been hardly convincing since Spanish coach Juan Garrido took over at the club in July.

They have won the Egyptian Super Cup after beating arch-rivals Zamalek on penalties and reached the African Confederation Cup final since Garrido was appointed but were still criticized for a number of mediocre performances.

They were expected to claim a comfortable win over minnows Ragaa but the club, who are based in Matrouh governorate in western Egypt, stunned them with a 2-1 victory in Alexandria.

Ahly are at the bottom of the 20-team table but only because their opening three league matches were postponed due to their Confederation Cup commitments as they seek to become the first Egyptian side to win Africa's secondary club competition.

"Coach Garrido stressed that Ahly's players should quickly get over their defeat against Ragaa," said Wael Gomaa, a former rock-solid defender who retired last season after playing a key role in helping Ahly win a host of domestic and continental titles.

"We should beat Ittihad El-Shorta and move to the right path in the league," he added.

El-Shorta, one of two Premier League clubs owned by Egypt's interior ministry, bagged four points from three games, which included a surprise defeat with Cairo giants Zamalek.

"This match is not special. Facing Ahly is like facing any team in the league," said El-Shorta coach Khaled El-Qammash.

Ahly's several international players are buoyed by Egypt's two consecutive wins over Botswana as the Pharaohs revived their hopes of reaching next year's African Cup of Nations finals in Morocco.

They will miss midfield duo Mohamed Farouk and Mohamed Rezk due to injury plus long-term absentee Abdallah El-Said.

Full-back Basem Ali, who is serving a one-month suspension for signing for two clubs at the same time, and Egypt's regular keeper Sherif Ekramy, who missed the wins over Botswana due to a knee complaint, are also out.  

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