Ahly are close to securing their 39th Egyptian Premier League title since the competition started in 1948, as they gear up to face Maqassa Monday on the 30th match day of the league, four games ahead of the competition's end.
The Cairo giants, who are currently in the driver's seat on the team table with 75 points, only need one point against Maqassa – who are second with 63 points – to secure their tenth league title in the past 11 seasons.
However, Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry said he is expecting his players to produce more than a draw.
"We have to win the game against Maqassa, not draw, because it would be a great finish for the Egyptian Premier League title race," El-Badry was quoted as saying on the club's official website.
Ahly will have to do without three of their key players. Inspirational playmaker midfielder Abdallah El-Saied was ruled out due to injury, veteran midfielder Hossam Ashour was suspended, and in-form Ivorian striker Souleymane Coulibaly travelled to London on Thursday without permission.
Nigerian striker Junior Ajaye is set to start as a lone striker with Moemen Zakareya and Mohamed Hani expected to play to make up for the absentees.
There was a tangible relief in the air after El-Badry's men managed to claim a 2-0 away win over Cameroonian side Coton Sport in the African Champions League last week. It brought an end to a series of disappointing performances that put El-Badry's fate on the line, especially after being held at home by minnows Sharqeya and Zambia's Zanaco.
Maqassa coach Ehab Galal will be working to delay Ahly's title celebrations and also cement Maqassa's place as runners-up to secure their place in next year's African Champions League.
"I asked the players to deal with the game against Ahly as any other game in the league and to concentrate on the key points of the game to achieve their objective," Galal said.
Meanwhile, Ahly's archrival Zamalek lost hope of bidding for a title this year as they struggle to secure the third spot and a qualification for next years African Confederation Championship.
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