Al Ahly win as a new league season kicks off in Egypt

CAIRO - African champions Al Ahly were among the winners in the first week of action in the delayed Egyptian league. Egyptian clubs are hoping to completing the first season since 2011 after security issues cut short the last two campaigns.

CAIRO - African champions Al Ahly were among the winners in the first week of action in the delayed Egyptian league.

Egyptian clubs are hoping to completing the first season since 2011 after security issues cut short the last two campaigns.

Ahly bounced back from a disappointing Club World Cup trip, where they finished sixth losing both game in Morocco, with a 2-0 win at El-Entag El-Harby on Thursday.

Abdallah El Said opened the scoring from the penalty spot just in the 69th minute and then Amr Gamal sealed the victory in the 83rd.

It was the first game for Ahly since the retirement of their talismanic midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika.

They will also now be without striker Emad Moteab for several weeks after the striker pulled a hamstring.

The league had kicked off on Tuesday with Petrojet and Talae El-Gaish playing out a 1-1 draw.

Al Masry lost 2-0 to Zamalek on their return to action for the first time since the Port Said stadium riot in February 2012 more than 70 people were killed at their match against Al Ahly.

Spectators were crushed when panicked crowds tried to escape from the stadium after a pitch invasion by supporters of Al Masry. Others fell or were thrown from terraces.

The violent clashes shocked Egypt and resulted in the 2011-12 season being immediately halted and a host of sanctions for the Port Said club.

Club football then suffered a near year-long standstill before a new season belatedly got underway, only for it to be halted in July after the army ousted the country’s president Mohamed Morsi with one round of the 2012-13 regular season left.

The 22 clubs in the top flight are divided into two groups with play-offs at the end of the season to determine the champions. All games are being played behind closed doors, the Egyptian Football Association announced.

Al Masry have been ordered to play their matches at Suez, while military stadiums in Cairo will host the games of African champions Al Ahly and their arch rivals Zamalek, both of whom command passionate followings. The pair have been placed in separate groups.

Tuesday’s kick off came after a series of start dates for the new season had been put back.

“It has been incredibly difficult to prepare,” said El Gouna’s German coach Rainer Zobel in an interview with the Kicker soccer magazine.

“We’ve had several false starts to the season in August, then September and lastly 6 December. It has been a long, long wait.”

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