Ahli open title defense against newcomers Olympic

السبت، 09 أغسطس 2008 - 12:16

كتب : Omar AbdelAziz

Egyptian league holders Ahli will kickoff the 2008-2009 campaign with an easy test against newly-promoted Olympic in Cairo.

The Reds are firm favorites to win, following a dazzling start to the season with two impressive victories over Zamalek and a draw at ASEC Mimosas.

Moreover, Ahli almost have a full-strength squad, boosted by the return of fans favorite Mohamed Abou-Treika from a lengthy layoff.

Emad Meteb is also back after a hamstring problem, as the only casualties remain to be long-term absentees Ahmed Fathi and Emad Al-Nahhas.

On the other hand, Olympic's outmost ambition will be a draw in Cairo, as the former giants are number one candidates for relegation this term.

The Alexandria-based outfit have barely made any significant changes to their squad, which mainly consists of unknown youngsters.

"A start against Ahli will be very difficult, but I think our young side could be handed the opportunity to unveil their skills for the first time," Olympic coach Moushir Osman told FilGoal.com.

"Our primary objective this season is to stay in the top flight, even though we are looking forward to play with a winning mentality."

Ismaili vs. ENPPI

Ismaili host ENPPI in the top clash of the opening day of the league, as the Dervishes will be without Hosni Abd-Rabou and Hani Saied for the first time.

The Egypt international duo, who were indispensible members of the team last season, left Ismaili for Ahli Dubai and Zamalek respectively.

Apart from that, Ismaili interim manager Khaled Al-Kammash will be in charge of the team, who is yet to hire a new coach despite agreeing terms with Mrat Mahjoub.

"We know that ENPPI are more stable than us at the moment, but we heavily rely on the support of our fans on Saturday," Al-Kammash said ahead of the game.

ENPPI enjoyed a superb 2007-2008 season under Anwar Salama, who led them to the cup final, only to be beaten 2-1 by Zamalek.

Former Ahli and Zamalek star Ibrahim Saied is set to make his debut with Ismaili after joining from Turkish side Ankaragucu in the summer.