Preview: With Egyptian league title in the bag, will Ahly rotate squad?

Ahram Online , Friday 28 Aug 2020

The Cairo giants meet Port Said-based club Masry on Saturday with little to worry about

 Rene Weiler
File photo of Ahly coach Rene Weiler (Photo: the club's official website)

Ahly's last-gasp victory over Gouna on Wednesday put the Red Devils within touching distance of a fifth straight Egyptian Premier League title and it might be time now for coach Rene Weiler to rotate his squad.

The Cairo giants meet Port Said-based club Masry on Saturday with little to worry about, having maintained their staggering 17-point advantage over nearest challengers Pyramids and Zamalek.

Marwan Mohsen's stoppage-time goal over a stubborn Gouna side leaves Ahly needing just six matches from their remaining 12 to officially wrap up the title, providing that Pyramids and Zamalek do not falter further.

Winning the league has become customary for Ahly and their ultimate target remains clinching the coveted African Champions League title, which has eluded them since 2013.

They face Morocco's Wydad Casablanca in the Champions League semis next month, with many questioning Weiler's insistence on fielding a full-strength side in recent domestic league games.

The league resumed early this month following a five-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) introducing a hectic schedule to make sure the season does not end later than October.

"I don't know why Weiler still fields the likes of (Tunisian left-back) Ali Maaloul and some others, who are clearly showing signs of fatigue," football pundit and ex-Zamalek playmaker Hazem Emam said.

"The big gap at the top means there is no risk to Ahly's title march. The players must have some rest."

Masry's indifferent form this season, which stands in stark contrast to last term when they finished fourth in the league, leaves them 14th in the table with 22 points from 20 matches.

Their aim to improve their position has not been helped by a string of coronavirus infections that hit their players, with Masry's board falling out with EFA officials over the governing body's refusal to reschedule their matches.

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