Ahly will experiment with a handful of youth players when they meet Ittihad of Alexandria in the Egyptian Premier League on Sunday as they virtually lost hopes of competing for the title.
With arch-rivals Zamalek on the verge of making it back-to-back league triumphs, Ahly are looking to give their experienced players some rest and inject fresh blood.
Ahly are third in the table with 56 points, a massive 13 behind leaders Zamalek, who played two games more with only five rounds remaining.
The Red Devils’ squad for the Ittihad game included eight players from the youth team, with coach Ricardo Soares likely to use the remaining seven games to assess them and decide whether some could be part of his plans for next season.
The roster also included some seniors, especially those who had just recovered from injuries such as defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim and South African forward Percy Tau.
The build-up to the game was overshadowed by Ahly’s complaints over what they perceive as poor refereeing that cost them in the past couple of games.
Ahly were infuriated after having two goals chalked off following VAR reviews during two successive 0-0 draws with Arab Contractors and Pharco. They argued that both goals, which were ruled offside, were legitimate amid controversy over the use of technology to determine the offside margins.
The club, who risk finishing the season empty handed after also losing to Morocco’s Wydad in the African Champions League final, said they would withdraw from the Egypt Cup and the Egyptian Super Cup if the refereeing committee was not dissolved.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) had already brought in English referee Mark Clattenburg to head a new committee tasked with developing Egyptian referees.
Ittihad, who lie 13th in the 18-team table with 33 points, will be looking to pull further away from the relegation zone. Ahly won the reverse league fixture 1-0 in April.