Preview: Ahly,Ittihad of Alexandria to face-off at Borg El-Arab amid venue controversy

Karim Farouk , Monday 1 Apr 2019

Al Ahly's midfielder Ramadan Sobhi (L) is marked by Zamalek's midfielder Ferjani Sassi (R) during the Egyptian Premier League football match between Zamalek and Al Ahly at the Borg El Arab Stadium, near Alexandria on March 30, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

After failing to move the venue from the damaged Borg El-Arab pitch in Alexandria, Ahly will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and bounce back to winning ways when they take on Ittihad of Alexandria on Tuesday.

The defending champions were held to a goalless draw by current league leaders Zamalek on Saturday in a game that was marred by heavy rains on the Mediterranean city that flooded an already poor pitch.

Earlier on Monday, the Egyptian FA decided to move the game to another stadium in western Alexandria, El-Max, and shut down Borg El-Arab stadium for maintenance before backtracking on the decision following the refusal of security authorities to host the fans of Ittihad at El-Max.

Ahly coach Martin Lasarte had complained that the state of the pitch has harmed their passing game and, consequently, ball possession against Zamalek on Saturday.

The Uruguayan tactician would welcome back in-form midfielder Karim "Nedved" Walid who served an automatic ban against Zamalek. He is likely to rotate his squad since Ahly has a crucial Champions League quarter-final clash against South Africa's Sundowns on Saturday.

Ahly's Angolan winger Geraldo, mega-January signing Hussein El-Shahat, and Moroccan striker Walid Azzaro are expected to have starting roles against Itihad.

The team is set to travel to South Africa promptly after the Itihad game.

The Alexandrian side also enjoys a full squad as they will be able to field their Ahly loanee winger Ammar Hamdi, who has just made his international debut.

"We have a full squad for this game and all our players are eligible for this game including Ammar Hamdi. Whether he plays or not is purely a technical decision. Ahly are a very strong team and they have a lot of key players on the bench that proved to be game changers. We are well prepared for this game," Helmi Tolan, the Itihad coach said on Monday.

Ahly are second on the Egyptian Premier League teams table with 52 points after playing 23 games so far this season, while Ittihad, who played 26 games, are 9th with 32 points.

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