Preview: Wounded Ahly seeking to avenge 4-1 loss to Ittihad

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 27 May 2015

Ahly v Ittihad
Ahly suffered a 4-1 defeat by Ittihad of Alexandria in the Egyptian Premier League last December (Photo: Ahram)

Ahly, battered by a poor run, will be seeking to avenge an embarrassing loss last December when they meet Ittihad of Alexandria in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday, having conceded defeat in the title race.

The Red Devils have all but lost hopes of retaining the league title that they had won the past eight seasons, having fallen 11 points behind Zamalek, their reinvigorated foes who still have a game in hand over their Cairo rivals.

But they are still vying with ENPPI for the runners-up spot, which earns qualification for next year's African Champions League.

However, Ahly will be also playing for their pride when they host Ittihad, who handed them a stunning 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture last year. It was Ittihad's first win over their illustrious opponents since 2008.

"We take the previous result in our consideration, and I told the players they should keep it in their minds," said Ahly coach Fathi Mabrouk, who led the team to three consecutive league wins after taking over following the sacking of Juan Garrido but the winning run was halted after a 1-0 loss to Haras El-Hodoud last week.

"I reminded them of that result to make sure they will be motivated to get a good result."

Ahly's preparations for the match against Ittihad, who are led by Egypt's all-time leading scorer and former Ahly star Hossam Hassan, were clouded by a four-match suspension handed to veteran midfielder Hossam Ghaly.

Ghaly was sent off during the defeat by El-Hodoud, picking up two yellow cards in quick succession after remonstrating with the referee. He was stripped of Ahly's captaincy by the club's board after taking off the skipper armband and kicking it away in fury on his way out.

The team will also miss long-term absentees Moemen Zakareya, Mahmoud Hassan 'Trezeguet' and Amr Gamal.

Zamalek, who are in pole position to win their first league title since 2004, will be looking to extend their winning run to eight consecutive wins when they meet Ittihad El-Shorta in Thursday's late kick-off.

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