File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Zamalek and Ismaily (Reuters)
Ismaily and Zamalek will be hoping to capitalize on a rare defeat by defending champions Ahly when they face off in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday.
The early form of Ahly suggested that they are well equipped to win a third consecutive league title, having won eight out of their first nine games.
However, their impressive 46-match unbeaten league run came to an end when they slumped to a 3-2 defeat by last season’s runners-up Maqassa in an exciting match on Sunday.
Ahly’s loss prevented them from overtaking Ismaily on top. The Dervishes are leading the table with 27 points, two ahead of Ahly who still have two games in hand.
Zamalek are fourth on 19 points, having played one match less than Ismaily.
Ismaily and Zamalek meet in an anticipated game with everything to play for. Zamalek are desperate to revive their fading hopes while Ismaily are keen to maintain a superb start to the season.
“This match is difficult; both teams are very motivated to win,” said Zamalek coach Nebojsa Jovovic, whose job is under scrutiny after two defeats and four draws in the team’s first 11 games.
“We are well aware of the importance of this match and we are determined not to drop any point.”
Zamalek broke Ahly’s decade-long stranglehold on the league when they won the competition in 2015 while Ismaily’s last triumph was in 2002.
Zamalek will miss striker Bassem Morsi, influential right-back Hazem Emam and playmaker Ayman Hefni due to injury while Ismaily have a fully-fit squad.
Both teams settled for draws in their two duels last season.
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