Cairo Derby Preview: Al Ahly vs. Zamalek
Al Ahly are set to host their local rivals Zamalek SC behind closed doors in the 110th league Cario derby on Tuesday, 21 July at 8:00 p.m. (GMT +2).
Al Ahly and Zamalek drew 1-1 the last time the teams faced each other in the league, courtesy of goals from Zamalek and Al Ahly’s playmakers, Ayman Hefny and Walid Soliman respectively.
In what could potentially be the Egyptian Premier League title decider, the two sides were set to meet at El-Gouna Stadium however, Al Ahly were adamant in their refusal of playing the match on this ground. As a result, Egyptian FA executive director Tharwat Sweilem announced the venue has been changed to the Borg El-Arab Stadium.
Fathi Mabrouk will fancy proving his worth as the interim manager of Al Ahly and will look to defeat the Whites to postpone their tittle claim and make it up to the fans for having a very weak chance for the title.
Jesualdo Ferreira will be looking to guarantee his side the league title in the game where they just need one point to win the trophy, which has last been won by the Whites during the 2003/04 season. Zamalek’s last win over Al Ahly was on the 21st of May 2007, with goals from Tamer Abdel-Hamid and Gamal Hamza. Since then however, Zamalek have failed to beat Al Ahly in 20 encounters in all competitions, with nine of those ending as draws.
Al Ahly: D-W-W-W-W
Al Ahly head into the game as hosts sitting in second place with 74 points from 35 games. Coach Fathi Mabrouk will look to continue the fabulous form by Al Ahly after a string of good displays and wins. The recent return of Amr Gamal will definitely be a boost to the attacking line of the Red Devils. Islam Roshdy has also been a player of the tough times for the club after being sidelined for most of the season. His goal managed to give the Reds a point against recently-relegated El-Gouna, who usually managed to over achieve in front of the big teams. Al Ahly’s defense has significantly improved, only conceding three goals in their last five league matches.
Zamalek walk in in need of just a point to secure the league title, sitting on the top of the table with 83 points from 35 games. Unlike the first leg, which saw the teams draw 1-1, Zamalek are more stable now. Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira has been at the helm for six months now and has a clear vision of the team’s best players. The recent win over Orlando Pirates in South Africa has shown what the team are capable of doing. After risking loosing nine players to suspension in the last game, Zamalek will face Al Ahly with a full squad looking to battle out a point and claim the title in front of their life-long rivals.
Zamalek: Bassem Morsi
Having started the season as the fourth choice striker, Bassem Morsi has made his way into becoming one of the club’s most important players. A hat-trick in his last game against Al-Nasr showed what the striker is capable of. Bassem has proven his ability to score goals with his left and right leg as well as headers, notching 17 goals in the league this season. His pressing of opponents’ defense is something the club has missed for a long time and will no doubt be the answer to all of Zamalek’s fans prayers.
Al Ahly: Momen Zakaria
Having moved from Zamalek to Al Ahly in January, Momen Zakaria is up for his first Cairo Derby in the Reds’ jersey. Momen was suspended during the first leg due to signing for the two clubs along with Khaled Kamar and Moruf Yusuf. All eyes will now definitely be on Momen to see whether he will be able to pull off one of his wonderful displays and score the crucial goals for his club this time.
Will Zamalek be celebrating in front of their arch-rivals after the final whistle or will Mabrouk’s side manage to keep their league hopes alive? Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments section below.
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