Al Ahly Egyptian League Champions for a fifth straight season

Al Ahly Egyptian League Champions for a fifth straight season Ahly romped to another Egyptian Premier League triumph without kicking a ball, wrapping up the title for a fifth...

Al Ahly Egyptian League Champions for a fifth straight season

Ahly romped to another Egyptian Premier League triumph without kicking a ball, wrapping up the title for a fifth straight season on Friday to achieve their target of getting the job done at the earliest possible time.

Aswan’s 1-0 win over second-placed Zamalek gave runaway leaders Ahly an unassailable 20-point lead on top with six rounds left, rendering the title holders’ match against Maqassa on Saturday meaningless.

Ahly can now shift their entire focus to the lucrative African Champions League title, which has eluded them since they won the last of their record eight crowns in 2013.

For the remainder of their domestic campaign, they can look forward to beating some of their own records, including surpassing a point tally of 88 and scoring more than 75 goals a season.

But pragmatic coach Rene Weiler might be more interested in resting his key players to have them fresh for the anticipated Champions League task, with Ahly meeting Morocco’s Wydad in a mouthwatering two-legged semi-final next month.

Ahly’s domestic hegemony was threatened last season after perennial rivals Zamalek opened up a seven-point lead on top, only for the Red Devils to stage a remarkable comeback and settle the title in their favour at the death.

But it was business as usual this term, with Ahly leading from day one and never looking back.

By far boasting the best attack and best defence, Ahly had netted 63 goals in 27 matches, conceding only eight. They drew four times and their only defeat came at the hands of Cairo foes Zamalek, who beat them 3-1 last month.

But the derby loss hardly blotted the copybook of Ahly, who seamlessly coasted to a routine league triumph — their 42nd in history.

One hallmark of their stellar campaign was their ability to kill off their opponents in the dying minutes, having claimed eight stoppage-time victories after typically throwing men forward in frantic finales.

They also heavily counted on the experience and creativity of veteran winger Walid Soliman, who rose to the occasion following the sudden departure of on-loan schemer Ramadan Sobhi after the latter turned down Ahly’s offer to sign him on a permanent basis when the league resumed in August following a five-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although he mostly came on as a second-half substitute, Soliman climbed to Ahly’s top scorers chart with eight goals and his late introductions made the difference in several matches.

With Ahly’s domestic exploits largely taken for granted, a more clear assessment of the team can be made in the Champions League next month.

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