Mosimane’s Ahly out to close gap


Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly will be out to close the gap on their rivals Zamalek when they take on Arab Contractors on Thursday in an Egypt Premier League tie.

Ahly trail table-topping Zamalek by 16 points with six games in hand due to their Caf Champions League commitments.

While awaiting the Champions League final against Kaizer Chiefs on July 17, Ahly have to turn their focus to the domestic scene where they have a backlog of fixtures.

They started the hectic run with a disappointing 2-2 draw with Pyramids, in which they conceded a last-gasp equaliser, but their 4-0 demolition of Smouha on Sunday has ended any worries over their form.

On Thursday, they face an Arab Contractors side that gave them a huge scare in the reverse league fixture in January when they led 2-0 at halftime, only to concede three goals after the break to lose 3-2.

However, they are now struggling at the wrong end of the table as they lie 14th with 29 points, just four above the relegation zone. They have drawn twice and lost once in their past three league matches.

“I gave more playing time to several players in tonight’s game. I want to make sure that all the players are fit and ready for the next stage of the season,” Mosimane said following the win over Smouha.

The Red Devils’ campaign will get a knock later this month when six of their regulars represent Egypt’s Under 23 team participating in the Tokyo Olympics.

Inspirational captain Mohamed El-Shennawi, mercurial right-back Akram Tawfik, winger Taher Mohamed Taher, defender Ahmed Ramadan and the duo of Nasser Maher and Salah Mohsen are part of the Young Pharaohs squad.

“The league games after the CAF Champions League final are expected to be difficult as we will be missing a number of our key-players who will be joining the Olympic team,” Mosimane told the club’s website.

“Losing six players in the Egyptian Premier League games is very difficult,” the former Mamelodi Sundowns coach said.

Egypt’s Under 23 side will open their Olympic campaign against Spain on 22 July before facing Argentina three days later and Australia on 28 July.

Ahly will play their six postponed league games from 22 July to 5 August and they have to win these games to overtake arch-rivals and log leaders Zamalek.

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By Mthokozisi Dube