CAIRO: A victory for Ahly over Gaish on Friday is the first step in their bid to approach the 26-day-long break as Egyptian Premier League leaders, coach Hossam Al-Badri said.
The defending champions faced stiff criticism prior to the league s start following some poor displays and results in pre-season friendlies.
They made a decent start to the new campaign though, bagging seven points from three games as they seek to win a sixth consecutive league title.
Egypt s premier competition will be halted when the country host the FIFA U-20 World Cup from September 24 to October 16 and Ahly are looking to enjoy the break in the best possible way.
We have no choice but to defeat Gaish. We then want to overcome Masri and Asyut Petroleum to remain on top during the break, Al-Badri said on Ahly s official website.
Gaish, who boast one of the deadliest strikers in Ghanaian Ernest Papa Arko, are determined to cause an upset.
Papa Arko and veteran players like Abdul-Sattar Sabri and Amr Al-Dali are our main weapons against Ahly, their boss Farouk Gaafar stated.
Apart from long-term absentees Emad Meteb and Mohamed Fadl, Ahly will miss inspirational playmaker Mohamed Abou-Trika, who is still nursing a knee injury.
Defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour is also unavailable due to injury.
Ahly s aim to become sole leaders during the break will not be fulfilled unless Petrojet, who face Gouna away from home on Friday, stumble in any of their next three games.
The Petroleum club, who also have seven points from three matches, tackle promoted Gouna without top scorer Al-Sayed Hamdi.
Striker Hamdi, who scored three goals in as many games, sustained a foot injury in Egypt s 1-0 victory over Rwanda in last weekend s World Cup qualifier.
He faces at least one month on the sidelines. His absence is a big loss but we have other options, Petrojet coach Mokhtar Mokhtar, under whom the team sealed promotion in 2006 before breaking into the top four during the past two seasons, said.
Alaa Ibrahim, Ahed Abdul-Maguid, Walid Soliman and Alaa Ibrahim are back so we shouldn t face any problems.
Last season s runners-up Ismaili will be eyeing their first victory of the season when they host Arab Contractors.
The Dervishes, who appointed Emad Soliman as head coach following the sacking of Nebojsa Vuckovic, will be boosted by the return of skipper Mohamed Hommos who missed the first three matches due to injury.