Preview: Troubled Ahly eye morale boost ahead of Shorta clash

Mahmoud Elassal , Friday 6 Feb 2015

Ahly will attempt to get back on form when they host Ittihad El-Shorta in the second leg of the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday

Al-Ahly players celebrate a goal scored against Al-Zamalik during their Egyptian Premier League soccer match in Cairo, January 29, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Under-pressure Ahly will attempt to stop a poor run when they face Ittihad El-Shorta on the 20th matchday of the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday.

The Red Devils have lost three games and drawn six during the first half of the Egyptian Premier League, losing 1-0 to ENPPI last week. They are third in the teams' table with 33 points, eleven behind arch-rivals and leaders Zamalek.

"We must be more clinical," said Ahly coach Juan Carlos Garrido, whose position is now under scrutiny, at ENPPI's post-match news conference.

"We produce five or six chances every game but convert only one," he said.

"We had the chance to win against ENPPI, Petrojet and Masry but we dropped at least seven points," he added, pointing the finger at misfiring frontmen.

The Egyptian Premier League title holders are facing tough competition to retain the title they have won over the past eight years, despite starting the season by winning the Egyptian Super Cup and despite the team's African Confederation Cup triumphs.

But the team remain unconvincing, with the current crop of players struggling to establish themselves following last season's retirement of a number of key players.

"The players have lost their determination and even their desire to win. They must know that Ahly is not a team who just play beautiful football. But it is a team that competes for all titles," Ahly's football director Wael Gomaa told reporters after the latest defeat.

Ittihad El-Shorta, who lie 11th in the 20-team table with 27 points, recently drew 2-2 with Petrojet after beating Gouna 1-0 in the 18th matchday last January.

The Ahly squad will be boosted by the return of first choice goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy after weeks of absence due to family issues. New signing Moemen Zakareya is set to make his debut after serving a month-ban after signing for two clubs at the same time. Nigerian striker Peter Ebimobowei - who joined Ahly last month - maintained his place in the squad for the second game.

Here is the 18-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Sherif Ekrami, Mossad Awad

Defenders: Sherif Hazem, Sabri Rahil, Bassem Ali, Mohamed Naguib, Saad Samir.

Midfielders: Hossam Ashour, Abdallah El-Said, Moemen Zakareya, Walid Soliman, Mahmoud Hassan "Trezeguet", Ramadan Sobhi, Mohamed Rezq, Karim Bambo.

Forwards: Emad Meteb, Peter Ebimobowei, Saladin Said.

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