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Thursday, 17 June 2021

Preview: Ahly baffled by unfamiliar inconsistency ahead of Ismaily game

Ahly won one out of their last three matches in all competitions

Ahram Online , Tuesday 9 Mar 2021
Ahly v Ismaily
File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Ahly and Ismaily (Ahram)
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The confident manner by which Ahly used to swagger past their opponents has taken a hit before the team meet Ismaily in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday as they seek to catch nemesis Zamalek on top.

Ahly could not have hoped for a better start under Pitso Mosimane, who led them to the African Champions League title last season with a remarkable win over Zamalek in the final before steering them to an Egypt Cup triumph shortly following his arrival in October last year.

But the South African boss has recently started to feel the heat as Ahly showed unfamiliar signs of inconsistency.

They first suffered a shock 1-0 loss at Tanzania's Simba FC in the Champions League before needing a last-gasp goal to claim a 2-1 comeback victory over lowly Talae El-Geish in the domestic league.

On Saturday, the Red Devils were guilty of spurning around a dozen scoring chances and their wastefulness cost them a home win over DR Congo's Vita Club, who held them to a 2-2 draw at Cairo Stadium.

Ahly's qualification from what looked an easy Champions League group is now far from certain, raising alarm bells among the team's demanding supporters.

In the domestic competition, any stumble would be even harder to swallow.

Winning the Egyptian Premier League has been a mere formality for Ahly in the past 15 years -- they have only lost the title once in the past 14 editions.

They drew three times in their first 10 games this season but they still remain favourites to retain their crown. Although Ahly are six points behind leaders Zamalek, they will overtake them should they win their three rescheduled games.

Ahly's old rivals Ismaily, the three-time Egyptian champions, are enduring one of their worst ever seasons as they languish third from bottom with only 10 points from 14 games.

Bosnian coach Dragan Jovic took over at Ismaily last month but he has yet to turn around their fortunes as they continue to stutter.

Both Ahly and Ismaily will miss some key players for a fixture that used to be highly-charged.

Ahly will have to do without a recognised left-back due to the injuries of first-choice Ali Maaloul and his understudy, Mahmoud Wahid. Central defender Ayman Ashraf is also injured while defensive midfielder Hamdi Fathi misses out due to suspension.

However, the Cairo giants welcome back playmaker Nasser Maher after a three-month layoff.

Ismaily will miss creative duo Abdel-Rahman Magdi and Mohamed Sadek due to injuries.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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