File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Ahly and Maqassa (Ahram)
Ahly will be eager to secure their third straight Egyptian Premier League win when they meet Maqassa on Sunday in their final game before heading to Casablanca for the anticipated African Champions League final.
The Red Devils' priority for now is to defend their Champions League crown as they meet South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs, who will make their first ever appearance in the final of Africa's premier club competition, on 17 July.
They recovered from two successive draws in the domestic league with an impressive 4-0 victory over Smouha before snatching a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Arab Contractors after scoring two late goals.
While Smouha left acres of space for Ahly to exploit, Contractors put 10 men behind the ball, restricting their illustrious opponents to some tame efforts before substitute Salah Mohsen finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute.
Critics said Contractors' defensive strategy is the same Ahly might get from Kaizer Chiefs in the Champions League final.
"Al Mokawloon were playing with seven players in defense tonight, but this is football," Ahly's coach Pitso Mosimane said, referring to Contractors with its Arabic name.
"We must move on step by step. We will focus first on Maqassa game, and then we will start our preparations for the Champions League final against Kaizer Chiefs."
Maqassa are on a three-match winless run, with their last victory coming against Ghazl El-Mahalla in late May. They lie ninth in the 18-team table on 37 points from 27 matches.
Mosimane left winger Taher Mohamed Taher and Congolese striker Walter Bwalya out of his squad for the Maqassa game.
He is unlikely to rest any of his key players as the league competition with perennial rivals Zamalek heats up. Ahly are 13 points behind leaders Zamalek but they will overtake them on top if they win five matches in hand.
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