Preview: Ahly counting on squad depth amid hectic league run

Ahram Online , Wednesday 7 Jul 2021

After they reached the final of the African Champions League for a second straight year, Ahly are in for a busy domestic calendar

Ahly v Arab Contractors
File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Ahly and Arab Contractors (Ahram)

Ahly, who face Arab Contractors on Thursday, are counting on their squad depth to withstand a tough period of fixtures as they seek to catch leaders Zamalek on top of the Egyptian Premier League table.

The Red Devils made up for two draws with Zamalek and Pyramids by crushing Alexandria-based club Smouha 4-0 following a vibrant attacking display on Sunday, with in-form forward Mohamed Sherif scoring twice.

Due to their African Champions League commitments, Ahly had more than half a dozen games rescheduled. After they reached the final of Africa's premier club competition for a second straight year, they are in for a busy domestic calendar to play their outstanding matches.

They started the hectic run with a disappointing 2-2 draw with Pyramids, in which they conceded a last-gasp equaliser, but their demolition of Smouha has ended any worries over their form as they gear up for the Champions League final against South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs on 17 July.

"I gave more playing time to several players in tonight's game. I want to make sure that all the players are fit and ready for the next stage of the season," Ahly's South African boss Pitso Mosimane said following the win over Smouha.

"We are expecting a very difficult time after the CAF Champions League final. We will miss six players who will participate in the Olympics. It is not easy to deal with the absence of six players in that stage of the season."

Ahly will have to do without several regulars when Egypt's U23 team take part in the Tokyo Games later this month, including right-back Akram Tawfik and winger Taher Mohamed Taher.

Arab Contractors gave Ahly a huge scare in the reverse league fixture in January when they led 2-0 at halftime, only to concede three goals after the break to lose 3-2.

However, they are now struggling at the wrong end of the table as they lie 14th with 29 points, just four above the relegation zone. They have drawn twice and lost once in their past three league matches.

Should Ahly win their six matches in hand, they will overtake Zamalek with a two-point lead. 

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