Ahly revelled in an Egyptian Premier League triumph that looked unlikely a few months ago after crushing the already relegated Arab Contractors 5-1 on Thursday – to secure the title for the seventh time in a row.
The Red Devils maintained their domestic supremacy after gaining an unassailable seven-point lead over arch-rivals Zamalek, with one match remaining to the end of the season.
Ahly, who were six points behind Zamalek halfway through, lived up to their billing as “Egypt’s invincible team” after bridging that gap to win their 36th league title, the sixth under Portuguese coach Manuel Jose.
“I want to congratulate all the players, technical staff members and fans for that great win,” Hassan Hamdy, who has been Ahly’s chairman since the death of the legendary president Saleh Selim in 2001, said on the club’s official website.“Everyone in our club exerted huge efforts to win the league. The great support of our loyal fans was also crucial.”
Ahly’s assistant coach Pedro Barney added, “I never imagined that we would finish the league with such a lead over Zamalek because our competitors were leading for long periods. However, we were confident we would win the title after producing a string of superb displays in the second half of the season.”
Champions League aim
Ahly said they would turn their attention to the African Champions League, eying their first continental triumph since 2008.
The Cairo giants, record winners of Africa’s premier club competition with six titles under their belt, open their group stage campaign against Moroccan outfit Wydad Casablanca on 17 July.
“We finished the league, our concentration is now solely on the Champions League,” said striker Emad Meteb, who regained his place in Ahly’s line-up after recovering from injury. “The match against Wydad is very important. Beginnings are always important.”
Ahly will also face MC Alger and Esperance of Tunisia in the tough Group B of the Champions League.