File photo: Emad Moteab (C) of Egypt's Ahly celebrates scoring a goal during their African Super Cup soccer match against Algeria's Entente Setif at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida February 21, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
Ahly coach Juan Carlos Garrido has denied reports of a rift with the club's striker Emad Meteb, insisting that his team is negatively affected by the fans' absence.
The veteran hitman Meteb recently expressed his displeasure after he was dropped from his side's squad for two successive games, despite being Ahly's top scorer in the Egyptian league this season, having netted nine goals so far.
"There is not rift with Meteb. He is equal with his other teammates. The ones who want to play must do their best to get a place in the matches," Garrido told reporters in the club on Tuesday.
Ahly lost their last match against Moghreb Tetouan in the first leg of the CAF Champions League round of 16 on Sunday.
The Reds are currently preparing for Thursday's Egyptian league clash against Damanhour.
"We didn't deserve the loss against Moghreb Tetouan as we had a lot of missed chances to score, but I am confident my players are able to recover in the second leg," the Spanish coach explained.
"Ahly is missing the support of its fans in the stands. We can't forget how their presence helped us in winning the African Super Cup last February.
"We still have a chance to win the league title. The players realise that too so we must fight to fulfill the dream of the clubs supporters," Garrido concluded.
Current league matches are played behind closed doors for security reasons after the 8 February football disaster, when 20 Zamalek supporters were killed after police forces used teargas to disperse a crowd of fans attempting to enter the Air Defence Stadium ahead of a league match with ENPPI.
Hani, El-Sayed and Zakareya to boost Ahly against Damanhour
According to Ahly's doctor, the club trio Mohamed Hani, Huessin El-Sayed and Moemen Zakareya will be available for the Damanhour match after recovering from different injuries.
Playmaker Walid Soliman is still doubtful for the game due to knee pains, while defender Mohamed Naguib is confirmed to be out for the same reason.
Title-holders Ahly, who are chasing a ninth successive league title, lie third in the league table with 43 points, eight behind leaders Zamalek, who are bidding for their first title since 2004.
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