File photo: Players from Egypt's Ah-Ahly pose for a group photograph during their African Champions League semi-final soccer match against Nigeria's Sunshine Stars at the Military Stadium in Cairo October 21, 2012 (Photo; Reuters)
Despite uncertainties regarding the future of head coach Hossam El-Badry, Ahly will be in a must-win situation when they host rivals Smouha in the Egyptian Premier League on Tuesday.
The Cairo giants are seeking revenge from the Alexandria-based club after their 1-0 defeat in the tournament's first round.
Recent reports about El-Badry's departure might serve to impact the team's performance, as players may not be fully concentrated.
Beating Smouha will greatly benefit the Red Devils, who are currently preparing to host Tunisia's CA Bizertin in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 on 5 May.
"The Smouha match will not be easy as it is one of the strongest teams in the league this season," El-Badry told the club's official website. "The first round defeat will not affect us negatively at all, but it will motivate us to achieve a good result."
"Thinking of the CA Bizertin clash could cost the players their concentration now, but facing off with Smouha will be good preparation for the continental clash," he added.
Ahly defender Sherif Abdel-Fadil will be fit for the match after recovering from a muscle injury, but both playmaker Walid Soliman and fullback Ahmed Seddik will not be available for technical reasons.
The titleholders of both the domestic and the continental championships have recently welcomed back winger Sayed Moawad and defender Mohamed Naguib after both recovered from injuries.
Winning Tuesday's match, or securing a draw at least, will allow the visitors – currently in third place with 16 points – to compete for a spot in the tournament finals.
"We're ready for the Ahly tie. I hope my team will be the first one to beat Ahly in both legs this season," Smouha coach Shawky Gharib said recently.
"It would not come as a surprise for me, as I believe that Smouha is a big threat for other teams and deserves to reach the league finals," he added.
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