Preview: Ahly open Egyptian league campaign with tough test against Ismaily

Ahram Online , Tuesday 26 Oct 2021

Ahly open their Egyptian Premier League campaign on Wednesday with a tough test against an Ismaily side who dealt them a fatal blow in the title race last season as they seek to regain their crown.

Ahly v Ismaily
Ismaily held Ahly to a 1-1 draw in their previous Egyptian Premier League meeting last August (Ahram)

When both sides last met in August, Ismaily snatched a 1-1 draw as Ahly dropped behind eventual champions and bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek with five matches remaining.

Zamalek's triumph deprived Ahly of a sixth straight league title and put coach Pitso Mosimane under intense pressure, even though the South African had led the Red Devils to back-to-back African Champions League crowns.

Mosimane's contract extension talks with Ahly stalled but the club said he was committed to staying until the end of his current deal next summer.

Ahly will be looking for a convincing start to the new campaign, a few days after they hammered Niger's USGN 6-1 to qualify for the Champions League group stage with a 7-2 aggregate victory.

"Our focus now shifts towards Ismaily's game on Wednesday. We are preparing well for the game, as we know it will not be an easy encounter," Ahly's football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz said following the victory over USGN.

Ahly will be boosted by their new signings when they take on Ismaily, including South African winger Percy Tau, who joined from English Premier League side Brighton in the close season.

Tau had just recovered from an injury sustained while on international duty last month.

Ismaily, who finished 11th last term, kick off the new season without new coach Talaat Youssef, who was infected with COVID-19.

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