Towards the end ” Al-Ahli is tightening its grip on the leadership of the football league”

As the National Football League enters its 21st stage, Al-Ahli — widely known as the Red Devils — is taking confident steps towards clinching their third title in a row. Although football fans and analysts thought the competition would heat up after the title holder’s sudden 3-0 defeat at the hands of their challengers second-placed Ismaili, it seems that the tournament will take the same course as the past two years.
Topping the tournament table with 11 points ahead of its nearest competitors, Al-Ahli has beaten all competitors during the past month to garner 56 points. After the sudden 3-0 defeat in their postponed match against Ismaili, Al-Ahli hammered Arab Contractors 5-1 in the 17th stage to regain part of its wounded dignity. They managed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Assiut Petroleum, before edging Suez Cement 2-0 on the latter’s home turf.
The Red Devils continued their winning streak by punishing the Coastal Guards by thrashing them 4-0 in Cairo. However, the team’s coach, Manuel Jose was sent off the playground as he improperly objected to a decision by the referee.
The team has increased their chances of holding the title this year by achieving a last-minute, face-saving 1-0 victory over Ittihad of Alexandria in the coastal city last week via its talented Emad Meteb. The Devils’ main striker comes at the head of the tournament’s goal scorers with 16 goals, followed by his teammate Angolan import Flavio who has scored 12 goals.
On the other hand, Ismaili failed to capitalize on its surprising win over Al-Ahli a month ago to improve their chances for a fourth league title. Although the team beat Ghazl Al-Mahallah 3-2 in the 17th round, they stumbled in Cairo when they lost to Enppi 1-0 in Cairo. The surprising defeat reduced the team’s chances to challenge for the title this season.
However, the team recovered in the following week, having edged Petrojet 2-1 in Ismailia. But it again lost two precious points when it drew with the Army 2-2 due to silly mistakes committed by its young goalkeeper Mohamed Sobhi.
Points drain prompted the club’s board to hire the expertise of a French coach to lead the team during the rest of the competition as well as the Egypt Cup tournament. This move might have been a bit late, but it soon bore fruits when the team hammered the Olympic team of Alexandria 6-0 in Ismailia in the 21st stage. This was the highest match score in the tournament up till now.
The coastal city team’s hopes of a fourth title in their history might be diminishing, especially when Al-Ahli is showing no sign of losing points any time soon. Still, analysts argue that the young players of Ismaili are promising and might compete for the title in the next season.
Zamalek, the third challenger for the title showed signs of recovery in the past month. During the past four rounds, they beat Enppi 2-0, Petrojet 2-1, the Army 3-0, and the Olympic team of Alexandria 1-0. The recent four victories catapulted the team into third place with 42 points, and it still has one game postponed due to its African Champions League engagements.
Coached by prominent French technical manager Henry Michel, the team has come back on the right track, starting to regain some of its shape. Nevertheless, sports critics see it highly unlikely that the white jerseys can catch up with their archrivals Al-Ahli, who rarely waste points by the end of the season.
As for oil clubs, the situation has not changed a lot. Petrojet is still putting up good performances, which catapulted them to seventh place with 29 points. Enppi, under the leadership of new coach Hani Ramzi, is still there in tenth place with 24 points. Assiut Petroleum has moved forward to occupy 14th place with 17 points. The team needs to redouble their efforts if they want to show up among premier clubs next season.

Standings

 
Team
P
Home
Away
W
L
D
GF
GA
Pts
1
Al-Ahli
21
11
10
18
1
2
50
10
56
2
Ismaili
21
11
10
13
2
6
45
15
45
3
Zamalek
20
9
11
13
4
3
34
15
42
4
Ghazl Mahalla
21
11
10
9
8
4
24
18
31
5
Harras Al Hodoud
21
11
10
8
6
7
24
26
31
6
Al-Gaish
21
10
11
7
6
8
24
24
29
7
Petrojet
21
10
11
7
6
8
27
28
29
8
Arab Contractors
21
10
11
7
6
8
12
16
29
9
Ittihad
21
11
10
6
8
7
21
29
25
10
ENPPI
21
11
10
5
7
9
17
19
24
11
Suez Cement
21
11
10
6
10
5
14
24
23
12
Masri
21
11
10
5
9
7
12
23
22
13
Tersana
20
10
10
4
7
9
19
21
21
14
Asyut Petroleum
21
11
10
4
12
5
14
30
17
15
Olympic
21
10
11
3
13
5
15
36
14
16
Tanta
21
9
12
2
12
7
10
28
13

By Mohamed El-Sayed

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