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Sliced twice
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 25 - 04 - 2019

Contrary to expectations, Ahly lost once again to Pyramids last week in the Egyptian Premier League. Free spending Pyramids, making their debut this season under Saudi management, jumped to first place after the win, tying Zamalek with 60 points but having played two games more.
Pyramids have now been able to beat defending champions Ahly twice this season under two different head coaches, leading to a host of questions about Ahly's recent form.
The victory proved Pyramids' superiority over Ahly this season as they managed to secure their second victory over Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte's men, although in all fairness it was Lasarte's first day on the job the first time around.
In the first round, Pyramids beat Ahly 2-1 when Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan was in charge of the newcomers. Last week, they were able to secure a tough 1-0 win over Ahly with their new Argentinian head coach Ramon Diaz.
In Game two, the Brazilian winger Keno placed a picture perfect swerving shot into Mohamed Al-Shennawi's top right hand corner in the 14th minute. Ahly's players were unable to even tie the game despite some easy chances that came their way.
On the other hand, Zamalek secured an easy 2-0 win against Ismaili. Omar Al-Said and Youssef Obama scored the goals for the Whites.
After this week, Zamalek returned to the top of the table with 60 points, while Pyramids and Ahly are second and third with 60 and 58 points respectively. Ahly and Zamalek have eight matches left while Pyramids have six games remaining. Meanwhile, Ismaili sit seventh with 37 points.
Ahly's loss was made all the more difficult following their embarrassing 5-1 aggregate drubbing by Sundowns of South Africa in the quarter-finals of the African Champions League.
The next game week is expected to be the toughest week in the season for the trio fighting for the domestic title. Zamalek and Pyramids will face each other while Ahly will have a tough encounter against Masri. The two matches are scheduled to be played after Al-Ahram Weekly goes to press.
Football analysts and journalists predict that this week could reveal the identity of the title's winner. On the one hand, Pyramids who have already secured a spot in next season's African Confederation Cup, will vie for the league crown but, given the standings, their chances are slim. On the other hand, Zamalek, the most prepared team since day one, will try their mightiest to win the league they last captured in 2015.
Title holders Ahly still have a chance to win the league and bring back the trophy to Gezira. The game with Masri, who have 46 points, could be their last chance. Ahly fans who have travelled far and wide to support the team have been angered by the club's performance during the last few weeks.
There is also a tough fight in the relegation zone of the league. Three teams are on the verge of being relegated to the second division.
Nogum, Dakhkleya and Haras are at the bottom of the table with 25, 26 and 29 points respectively. Enppi, Wadi Degla and Ittihad of Alexandria are themselves not far off from the danger zone, with 30, 31 and 33 points respectively. The battle not to be relegated will probably go down to the wire.


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