Preview: Ahly out to heal wounds against Gouna in Egyptian league

Mahmoud Elassal, Friday 14 Feb 2014

Ahly face Gouna in the 10th matchday of the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday

Ahly vs. Gouna
Ahly vs. Gouna in the Egyptian Premier League

A depleted Ahly side will be eager to heal the wounds of their recent stumble when they face Gouna in the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday.

The Cairo giants, who are struggling to do without some key players, are second in Group A of the league's new format with 16 points, behind leaders and surprise package Arab Contractors on goal difference.

The retirement of talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika and injuries to other key players such as Walid Soliman and Ahmed Fathi left coach Mohamed Youssef with limited options. He relied on some youngsters who have failed to make a notable impact, leaving Ahly vulnerable against modest opponents.

The defending champions suffered two successive defeats for the first time in seven years when they lost 2-1 to Arab Contractors and 1-0 to Dakhleya. They briefly recovered with an unconvincing 1-0 win over Ghazl El-Mahalla before being held to a goalless draw by Ittihad.

"Ahly is a big team and the draw isn't acceptable. Winning the match was our main target but we weren't lucky enough as we missed a lot of chances in the second half," Ahly coach Youssef said after the draw with Alexandria-based club Ittihad.

"Some patience is needed as the technical staff faces limited choices due to the current absences. We will keep trying new faces until we reach the best formation.

"We will do our best to regain our reputed performance and results. I will stand by my players till we do that and I will be patient," the coach added.

Ahly will welcome back striker Emad Meteb who has recently recovered from a niggling injury that sidelined him for a long spell. Defender Sherif Abdel-Fadil remains out after aggravating a knee injury during Friday's training session. 

Youssef said Ahly would not be distracted by their tough game against Tunisia's Sfaxien in the African Super Cup on Thursday. 

"For now we remain focused on winning the Gouna match and keeping our position at the group's summit and then we can think about the Super Cup," Youssef said.

Gouna, who are based in a Red Sea resort, lie in the bottom of Group A with four points.

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