Preview: Egypt’s Ahly out to prove revival is no fluke

Ahram Online, Friday 30 Aug 2013

Ahly will be looking to record another victory over AC Leopards when they host the Congolese outfit in Saturday’s African Champions League tie

Egypt's Ahly greet their fans before their African Super Cup game against AC Leopards in Alexandria on 23 February, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

A mini revival saw title holders Ahly claim a smash-and-grab victory at AC Leopards and they are out to prove this was no fluke as they host the Congolese outfit with the aim of edging close to a place in the African Champions League semi-final.

In a scrappy affair played on a poor pitch in Dolisie, a first-half goal from winger Walid Soliman helped Ahly to a 1-0 win over Leopards that made up for the team’s poor start to their group-stage campaign, which saw them play out a dull 0-0 draw with Cairo rivals Zamalek before slumping to an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat by South Africa’s Orlando Pirates.

Injuries, suspensions and lack of competitive action following the cancellation of the Egyptian Premier League due to the ongoing political turmoil have affected Ahly’s displays in their bid to defend the title they won last year.

But they seem determined to defy the odds once again and retain the Champions League crown.

They are level on four points with Leopards, three behind leaders Orlando Pirates who will all but secure their place among the last four if they beat Zamalek (one point) in the other Group A game on Sunday.

“It’s a do-or-die game for Leopards, who will pose a threat to us,” Ahly defender Mohamed Naguib said on the club’s official website.

“Leopards are motivated to win and they are dangerous in terms of their collective play and ability to deliver pinpoint crosses.”

Ahly will have to play in the searing heat of the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna once again as the match will kick off in the afternoon due to lack of floodlight at the tiny 12,000-seat stadium. Egyptian authorities reversed a crowd ban and said they would allow a limited number of Ahly supporters to attend the match.

The Red Devils welcome back regular trio Ahmed Abdel-Zaher, Ahmed Fathi and Hossam Ghaly after they missed the away win over Leopards due to suspension.

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