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Preview: Ahly eye return to Egyptian Premier League summit

Ahly are hoping for revenge against Arab Contractors in the Egyptian Premier League on Tuesday

Omar Zaazou, Monday 14 Apr 2014
Ahly players
Mohamed Nagi "Gedo" (2nd R) of Egypt's Al-Ahly celebrates after scoring against Tunisia's CS Sfaxien during their African Super Cup soccer match at Cairo Stadium February 20, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Ahly will be looking to reclaim Group A top spot for the first time in nine weeks when they face Arab Contractors in the Egyptian Premier League on Tuesday.

Second-placed Ahly have been given a timely chance to move to the group's summit after leaders Smouha were shockingly defeated 2-0 by rock bottom El-Entag El-Harby.

The African champions will also be looking to avenge their first league defeat of the season at the hands of Contractors when the Mountain Wolves emerged 2-1 winners back in January.

The league loss, which ended a four-match winning streak, had been particularly embarrassing for Ahly, who have not tasted defeat from their Cairo rivals since 2004.

And considering the Reds' results of late, they will be aiming to build on their fine form to secure their third win in a row – first thrashing Maqassa 4-1 and then, thanks to a late blitz, a 3-0 victory over lowly Ragaa last week.

Ahly, however, still fear another setback from their opponents, whose fourth place position with 23 points means they remain in contention for a spot in the final mini-league phase.

"The game against Contractors is going to be tough and complicated," Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz told reporters ahead of the game.

"They boast a handful of decent players in all their lines. They are strong contenders for a spot in the league playoffs."

Contractors, on the other hand, have been far from impressive recently, having claimed only a single win in eight league games, with draws in their last three matches.

The encounter will also see the league's top-scorers face off, with the in-form Abdallah El-Said – who tops the scoring charts with eight goals – playing against Contractors' up-and-coming star Mohamed Farouk, who has to his name seven goals so far.

Forward Farouk, who has been linked with Basel after producing some superb displays this season, could prove to be Contractors' wild card in the game, having also scored against Ahly in the first half of the season.

Should Ahly claim the game's three points, they will become level on 29 points with Smouha, but the latter still have a game in hand.

Squad news

Ahly could hand new-signing Ahmed Khairy, who joined from Ismaily on a free transfer in the close season, his debut after being ruled out of action for more than two months due to a nagging back injury.

Manager Mohamed Youssef, however, will be without young striker Amr Gamal, who scored against Contractors in this season's 2-1 defeat, out through automatic suspension.

Youssef will also be forced to reshuffle his midfield, with Mahmoud Hassan 'Trezeguet' suspended and Shehab Ahmed sidelined due to a knee injury.

Egypt's forward Mohamed Nagy 'Gedo' also increased the beleaguered boss's injury woes after being ommitted due to a back complaint but is expected to return against Morocco's Difaa El-Jadida at the weekend.

Youngsters Omar Bassam and Karim 'Bambo' have been included in the squad as replacements for the major absentees.

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