Preview: Ahly keeping fingers crossed that no further injuries hit them

Ahram Online , Tuesday 6 Oct 2020

Ahly keeper El-Shennawi picked up an injury in the 1-0 win over Arab Contractors (Photo: Ahly's official website)

As they enter the crucial final stretch of the season, Egyptian Premier League winners Ahly will be hoping no further injuries hit them as they gear up for the anticipated African Champions League semi-final.

The Red Devils might have paid the price of fielding a full-strength side in their most league games even after they had wrapped up the title with six rounds to spare last month.

In their previous 1-0 victory over Arab Contractors, goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who is arguably Ahly's best performer this season, was taken off with a groin injury amid doubts that he can feature in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Morocco's Wydad later this month.

Ahly, who only have three matches remaining in their domestic campaign, will now need to rest other key regulars when they meet Enppi on Wednesday amid a hectic fixture schedule.

New coach Pitso Mosimane marked his debut in charge with a victory over Contractors, although he must have realized he still has some work to do to shore up his defence, which is also suffering because of injuries to key duo Rami Rabia and Mahmoud Metwalli.

The South African boss said that while he must "respect the badge" of Ahly by fielding strong line-ups, he has to give the players some rest to have them fresh for the Wydad encounter.

"We cross our fingers that it's not a big injury because we cannot afford more injuries. We have too many players out. We have a little bit of a hospital here," Mosimane told a news conference following the Contractors game, referring to El-Shennawi's groin complaint.

"We have to make sure that we manage the team until we arrive in Casablanca because we can't take risks," he added, referring to the city that will host the first leg of their last-four clash on 17 October.

Mosimane promoted eight youth players to the first team to make up for the absences, which also include Senegalese striker Aliou Badji after he suffered an ankle injury. Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul and Angolan winger Geraldo are not available because of international duty. 

Enppi are having a good season as they lie fifth in the table with 45 points. They have an outside chance of breaking into the top four as they are seven points behind Contractors with three matches remaining.

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