The game against Ismaily wasn’t easy; we can cope without Fathi: Ahly’s Koller

Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Jul 2023

Ahly coach Marcel Koller said the match against Ismaily was challenging as he anticipated, expressing confidence that his team can cope without its formidable midfielder Hamdi Fathi who left recently for the Qatari League.

File Photo: Ahly s Swiss coach Marcel Koller. AFP


On Wednesday, Ahly eked a narrow 1-0 win over the Dervishes in a postponed league game, moving closer to winning the Egyptian Pro League crown.

With the win, Ahly are currently at the top of the league table with 72 points, five points clear of second-placed Pyramids.

"The game wasn't easy as I expected it not to be. We made it harder for ourselves in the first half since the players couldn't penetrate the opponent's defence," Koller told the post-game press conference.

"But I told the players at halftime to push forward. They struggled with finishing but we managed to win," the Swiss tactician revealed.

Koller expressed satisfaction with the chances his team created during the game but stressed that his players need more ferocity on the goal.

"I am happy with the players and the chances we create because this shows the work we are training on."

"But, of course, I will be happier if we score more," Koller concluded.

Without Hamdi

Last week, Fathi, 28, who played a crucial role in solidifying the team's midfield since joining in 2019,  left the Red Devils to join Qatari side Al-Wakrah SC.

"Hamdi Fathi was a key player for us and played an important role during the season, but every player has different characteristics and roles," said the 62-year-old tactician who won four titles with the Red Devils since taking the helm last September.

"I don't like making comparisons between players. Ahly is a big team and we can cope without him," he added.

The boss revealed Ahly have not reached any agreements regarding signing new players, stressing that all big teams need to strengthen their squads. 

Rotation is key

Koller emphasized the importance of rotating players to prevent fatigue since the team is competing in multiple competitions domestically and continentally.

"Rotation is one of the basics as Ahly play in all competitions."

"It's not right to rely on a specific group of players since they could collapse physically, mentally, and technically. Everyone must participate," Koller said.

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