Pyramids FC will have to prove they can mount a serious title challenge when they face Zamalek in their first tough Egyptian Premier League game on Thursday, having suffered a surprising opening loss.
Last weekend, the big-spending club conceded a stoppage-time goal to lose 2-1 to Ittihad of Alexandria after their defensive frailties were repeatedly exposed, marking a poor start to their bid to challenge holders Ahly and Zamalek for the league title.
To make matters worse, marquee signing Ramadan Sobhi was dismissed following the final whistle after remonstrating with the referee, which would rule him out of the Zamalek clash.
"Our performance was below expectations and worse than the displays we produced in pre-season friendly games," Pyramids' Argentinean coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena said after the match.
"There is still a long way to go and we have to correct our mistakes quickly."
Pyramids are looking to improve on successive third-place finishes in the past two seasons, having narrowly missed out on a second-place finish in the latter stages of last season after being pipped by Zamalek.
Zamalek made a fine start to their campaign after beating Arab Contractors, who finished fourth last term, 2-0 in their opening match.
They are dealing with a tough run in the early stages of the season as they will also meet perennial Cairo rivals Ahly following their match against Pyramids.
Zamalek, who reports said are encountering financial problems after their entire board of directors was suspended and an interim committee took over, insisted that they have fulfilled their financial obligations towards the team's stars.
Veteran right-back Ahmed Fathi, who joined Pyramids after his contract with Ahly expired, could make his debut against Zamalek.
Zamalek welcome back deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim after he recovered from COVID-19. Midfielder Emam Ashour also returns from suspension.
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