Reigning African champions Al Ahly have received a major boost ahead of their trip to Pretoria where they meet Mamelodi Sundowns in the reverse leg of the Caf Champions League quarter final set for Saturday.
Influential left back Ali Maaloul and versatile midfielder Hamdi Fathi have both returned to the squad after lengthy spells on the sidelines due to injuries.
Maaloul, a Tunisian international, has been out for three months after sustaining a hamstring injury against Bayern Munich in the Club World Cup semi-finals on February 8.
Of course, the 31-year-old player is unlikely to start against Sundowns, but comes in as good cover with his vast experience in the continental game.
Fathi, on the other hand, had also been out since sustaining an arm injury while playing for Egypt against Kenya on March 25.
The Pharoahs midfielder has been declared fit for the game, but is also expected to be a backup option for the in-form duo Amr El-Sulaya and Aliou Dieng.
Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane will also welcome back Akram Tawfik, who missed the last two games against Zamalek and Sundowns due to a knee niggle, while striker Marwan Mohsen will miss the trip due to a knock sustained in training.
Ahly left Cairo on Monday and will be hoping to finish off Sundowns after a 2-0 win at home.
They fly directly to Doha, Qatar after their Champions League assignment to go and play RS Berkane in the CAF Super Cup on May 28.
“Sundowns’ tie is divided into two parts; we’ve played 90 minutes in Cairo, and the remaining 90 minutes will be in Pretoria.
“Sundowns is a tough and distinguished opponent, so we have to forget about the home game and prepare for the next one,” Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz told the club’s website.
Mosimane, who spent eight years at the Brazilians, stressed that his club has faced a tough schedule in the latest period, but assured that “there are no excuses, we are Ahly, we are a big team.”
Goalkeepers: Mohamed El-Shennawi, Ali Lotfi, Hamza Alaa.
Defenders: Rami Rabia, Yasser Ibrahim, Badr Benoun, Mahmoud Metwalli, Saad Samir, Ayman Ashraf, Mahmoud Wahid, Mohamed Hani, Ahmed ‘Beckham’ Ramadan, Ali Maaloul.
Midfielders: Amr El-Sulaya, Aliou Dieng, Hamdi Fathi, Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdi, Akram Tawfik, Nasser Maher, Taher Mohamed, Hussein El-Shahat, Walid Soliman, Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ Abdel Moneim, Junior Ajayi.
Strikers: Salah Mohsen, Mohamed Sherif, Walter Bwalya.
RELATED STORY: Mosimane’s Al Ahly beat Sundowns in Cairo
By Mthokozisi Dube