Ahli favorites to win league - Ismaili coach

الخميس، 29 يوليه 2010 - 22:23

كتب : Hatem Maher

Ismaili coach Mark Wotte conceded on Thursday that Ahli are frontrunners to maintain their local dominance and win the Egyptian Premier League.

"They are the champions of Egypt for six consecutive seasons. It is only natural that they become favorites to win the title again this season," the Dutch coach told a news conference.

Ahli have further strengthened their star-studded squad in the close season with some high-profile signings.

The acquired the services of Egypt forward Mohamed Nagi 'Geddo' and midfield duo Hossam Ghaly and Mohamed Shawky.

They opened their new campaign with a convincing 1-0 victory over Harras Hodoud in the Egyptian Super Cup.

Ismaili, on the other hand, were dealt an early blow after midfielder Hosni Abd-Rabou sustained a serious knee injury that will rule him out of action for around six months.

They also slumped to a 1-0 home defeat by Algeria's JS Kabylie in their Champions League group stage opener earlier this month.

No Promise

"I can't promise that Ismaili will win any title this season," Wotte, who returned to the Dervishes in the close season for a second spell after the resignation of Emad Soliman, added.

"But I can assure the fans that we will do our best to challenge for honors on the local and continental levels.

"We are facing a difficult season, especially after the injury of Abd-Rabou, but I'm happy that the club's board stood by me."

Ismaili signed several players, including three strikers to reinforce an unproductive frontline that greatly cost them last season in which they finished third in the league.

New arrivals Mostafa Gaafar, Moroccan Abdessalam Benjelloun and Ndubuisi Godwin have all scored in a 4-0 friendly win over Suez Canal University on Wednesday.

However, it remains to be seen whether they can make their competitive debut when Ismaili visit Cairo to face Ahli in Sunday's anticipated Group B clash in the Champions League.

"I haven't decided yet whether to field them against Ahli or not. They need time to gel into the team," Wotte said.

"But we have the sufficient experience to match Ahli in front of their fans at Cairo Stadium."

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