Preview: Ahly counting on new signings against title holders Zamalek in Cairo derby

Mahmoud Elassal , Thursday 4 Nov 2021

Ahly is counting on newly signed players when they face title holders Zamalek in the third matchday of the Egyptian Premier League at Cairo International Stadium on Friday.

Ahly vs Zamalek
File Photo: Al-Ahly striker Mohamed Sherif in action against Zamalek defender El-Wensh during their match taken on 5 May, 2021. Photo courtesy of Al-Ahly website.

The two sides made a strong start in the league, both claiming two victories without conceding any goals.

Ahly defeated Ismaily 4-0 and NBE Club 1-0, while Zamalek beat both Enppi and Talae El-Geish 2-0.

Zamalek coach Patrice Carteron has tipped archrivals Ahly to win the anticipated Cairo derby after the Reds splashed the cash in the summer transfer window, while the Whites suffer from FIFA sanctions over outstanding payments to former players and coaches.

In May, FIFA banned Zamalek from two transfer windows over unpaid dues to some former players and coaches.

"Ahly are the favorites to win the next league derby after spending big money in the last summer transfer window,” Carteron told ON Time Sports TV channel.

"I am happy with the outstanding season Zamalek had the last season; the current one will be difficult after many clubs spent a lot on signing new players and now have unlimited ambitions, but we will make their mission a difficult one,” Carteron added.

The 51-year-old, who coached Ahly in the 2018 season, will count on his two in-form wingers Achraf Bencharki and Ahmed Sayed Zizo, who made superb performances since the start of the season, as well as the cemented defence of midfielders Tarek Hamed, Mahmoud Hamdi El-Wench and Hamza El-Mathlouthi.

Zamalek, who claimed their first league title since 2015 last season, are hoping to secure the title for the second time in a row, despite a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.

“We will deal with the new season and the games’ sequence as we did in the last season,” Carteron was quoted as saying on Zamalek’s official website.

“We will give all the players their chances to participate and there won’t be any one player who plays in every single game.”

El-Shennawy, Dieng boost Ahly's squad

Ahly's international keeper Mohamed El-Shennawy, 32, has been cleared fit for the game against Zamalek after making a quick recovery from a hamstring injury he sustained in mid-October during national team duty against Libya in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

El-Shennawy missed Ahly's two critical games against Niger's USGN in the second preliminary round of the African Champions League,  as well as the team's first two games in the Egyptian League.

The veteran keeper helped Ahly to claim the African Champions League title two times in a row in the last two editions, and also win the African Super Cup trophy.

Meanwhile, Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng, who was sent off for a second bookable offence in Ahly's game against Ismaily, will boost the Reds' squad in the Cairo derby after serving a one-game suspension.

Eyes on Ahly's newly signed players

All eyes will be on Ahly's newly signed players in the derby after their superb performance since the start of the new season that helped the team send a warning to their league competitors.

Ahly's newly-acquired South African forward Percy Tau, 27, shone on his first appearance after joining from English Premier League side Brighton, with two superbly-taken goals, giving the team an impressive 4-0 victory over Ismaily.

Meanwhile, Mozambican winger Luis Miquissone, 26, another new recruit, was also convincing against the NBE in his second appearance with the Reds.

Midfielder Ahmed Abdel-Kader, 22, back from loan at Smouha, made a fine impact off the bench in both games against Ismaily and the NBE.

"We have to see how the new players will blend into the team. Tau, Miquissone, Abdelkader, and all the rest of the team put on a good performance tonight," Assistant Coach Sami Komsan said on Ahly's official website following the win over Ismaily.

"We still have a long road to go. We expect a tough competition as we will be overwhelmed with games, aside from the fact that all teams will be motivated to win."

Ahly coach Mosimane, 57, has excluded wingers Mahmoud Kahraba and Walid Soliman from the team's squad in the game against Zamalek.

Mosimane is expected to start the game with striker Mohamed Sherif, who notched the victory over NBE Club this week, alongside Tau, Hussien El-Shahat and Mohamed Afsha in the frontline.

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

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