Preview: Defending league champions Ahly host Geish with eyes on CL clash with Esperance

Ahram Online , Saturday 9 Sep 2017

File photo of Ahly (Photo: Ahram)

Defending champions Ahly will open their Egyptian league campaign with a home clash against Talae El-Geish at El-Salam Stadium on Sunday, in what could be a final rehearsal ahead of their crucial Champions League tie with Tunisia’s Esperance.

Facing Geish less than a week before entertaining Esperance on September 16, Ahly will be looking for a victory in a game that comes as a final preparation ahead of their last-eight first leg with the Tunisian giants at Borg El-Arab Stadium.

Eight-time African champions, theoretically, Ahly should find no problem overcoming Geish, who finished seventh of the Egyptian league table last season.

And despite winning the domestic double, the Ahly board still felt the urge to bolster their squad in the close season, signing a total of six players in different positions.

The most recent was the landing of 19-year-old winger Phakamani Mahlambi, who was signed from South Africa’s Bidvest Wits in an attempt to add pace to the flanks.

In midfield, Ahly brought in Hesham Mohamed, a player renowned of his passing skills, from Maqassa as manager Hossam El-Badry looks to vary his options at the center of the park.

Shoring up their defense, Abdallah El-Shami and Ayman Ashraf arrived, with the latter joining from Smouha alongside teammate Islam Mohareb.

Whether all the new-signings are all available to make the squad remains to be seen, with a couple of Ahly players doubtful for the league opener.

Tunisia’s marauding left-back Ali Maaloul will be undergoing scans on Saturday to determine whether or not he could play against Geish following a knock he sustained while on international duty.

Playmaker Saleh Gomaa has also been undergoing rehabilitation after arriving from international duty as well, having come on as a second-half substitute in both World Cup qualifiers against Uganda.

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