An Ahly side who romped to last season's Egyptian Premier League title with a swagger are much less convincing this term and they need to quickly rediscover their form against Ghazl El-Mahalla on Monday amid a hectic run of fixtures.
Ahly had not lost a single point at the same stage last season but they have now drawn four and lost once in their opening 16 matches, with some fans questioning what they perceive as the negative tactics of coach Pitso Mosimane.
The South African is blamed because Ahly needlessly retreated to their own half in two recent games -- a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Masry and Friday's 1-1 draw with Gouna.
Mosimane defended himself following the Gouna draw, saying he made attacking substitutions at halftime to beef up his frontline.
"I take responsibility as the coach … but we never deployed defensive tactics," he told the post-match news conference.
Ahly look to be suffering from fatigue due to fixture congestion, with several key players also sidelined after a string of injuries hit the team. They will face Mahalla on Monday, followed by Ittihad on Thursday and Cairo rivals Zamalek on 10 May.
Four days later, they will meet South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns in a mouthwatering clash in the first leg of the African Champions League quarter-final.
Mosimane might once again rotate his squad against Mahalla, who have drawn four times and won once in their previous five league matches. The promoted side lie 11th in the table with 24 points from 18 matches.
Ahly are second on 37 points from 16 games and they will pull three points clear on top if they win their two games in hand.
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