Preview: Zamalek eye league title crowning against Ahly in Cairo derby

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Monday 20 Jul 2015

Zamalek are one point away from their first Egyptian Premier League title triumph since 2004, Ahly eye a moral victory after almost losing hope for their ninth-successive title

Derby
El Zamalek's Ayman Hefny (L) fights for the ball with Al-Ahly's Hossam Ashour (R) during their Egyptian Super Cup soccer match at Cairo stadium, September 14, 2014 (Reuters)

Zamalek will be eying an official crowning of its first Egyptian league title since 2004 on Tuesday when they meet rivals Ahly in the Cairo derby.

The Whites, who lead the domestic table with 83 points, nine more than eight-times-in-succession winners Ahly, need only a single point from their three remaining matches to secure the title.

Beating classic rivals and titleholders Ahly will make this title a special one for Zamalek.

The White Knights will be looking to end Ahly's superiority, as their last win over the Reds was in 2007, when they defeated the Cairo giants who fielded a second-string team after securing the league title.

During the past ten derbies, Ahly won four times, while the other six ended in a draw.

The uncertainty over the venue of the derby, after Ahly's rejection to play in coastal city Gouna, has caused a heated atmosphere over the past few hours.

Ahly management firmly refused the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) decision to play the derby in Gouna Stadium after the interior ministry refused to secure it in Cairo.

Ahly asked for it to be played in Suez Stadium, Petro Sport, or Sharm El-Sheikh instead.

In a bid to solve the problem as well as not halt the Premier League, Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab gave the green light on Monday to stage the game at the Egyptian Army stadium in Alexandria's Borg El-Arab.

Ahly has named a full-strength squad for the Zamalek match after the recovery of goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, left-back Sabri Rahil and defence duo Sherif Abdel-Fadil and Saad Samir from their injuries.

Nigerian striker Peter Ebimobowei is the prominent absentee for Ahly due to injury.

On the other side, Zamalek enjoys full power after midfield wizards Ayman Hefni and Mostafa Fathi have been declared fit for the game.

Zamalek coach Jesualdo Ferreira has asked his players to concentrate so they can end the season on a high note by celebrating the league title after winning the Cairo derby.

"Ferreira told the players that he has full confidence in their abilities to win and deliver an outstanding performance against Ahly," the club's official site said.

The Red Devils coach Fathi Mabrouk said that his players promised to beat leaders Zamalek.

"Players are ready for the game, all of them are in fine shape technically and physically," Mabrouk told the club's official website.

"The training sessions witnessed competition between players as all of them are eager to book a place in the starting lineup," he added.

"The Zamalek game will be good preparation for the Etoile du Sahel match in the CAF Confederation Cup," the Ahly coach concluded, referring to Saturday's clash with Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel in the 3rd match day of the CAF Confederation Cup group stage.

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