Big guns against new faces as Egyptian Premier League kicks off

Big guns against new faces as Egyptian Premier League kicks off
05 August 2018 05:56

A new season has kicked off in Egypt, as the 2018-2019 Egyptian Premier League Day 1 games were played this week. In a year that marks 60th season of Egypt's League championship, eyes are set on the regular contenders, besides some new stuff.

Title holders Al Ahly, arch rivals Zamalek are as usual top contestants for the title, without ignoring some top guns like Ismaily and Port Said based side Al Masry. But this season attention goes to giant senders Pyramids FC (formerly Al Assiouty Sport).
The former Upper Egypt based side were overtaken by a Saudi investor who had reshaped the whole club. Changing the name to Pyramids FC, the club's base to New Cairo suburb just outside the capital, and purchasing 19 new players, including a technical staff and a quartet of players from Brazil, beside some Egypt international figures like Ahmed Elshennawy, Ali Gabr and Omar Gaber. Speculations whether the newly formed side can withstand regular names to the title are being discussed on a daily basis in Egyptian football media, especially after the reformed club launched their own TV channel, holding the same name.

It's expected that this season is taking a full year time, subjected to end in August 2019, as per Amer Hussein, head of Competitions in Egyptian Football Association (EFA). "It's an exceptional season, as the clubs will go through two editions of CAF interclub competitions, and the national team is expected to take part in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations next June. This puts heaps of loads over our shoulders", explained Hussein.

EFA decided to expand the number of foreign players quota assigned for each team to four, instead of limiting it to only three on the pitch as was the case last season. This allowed some new faces to join the 18 teams taking part in this season's competition.

Eyeing their fourth straight title and their 41st overall, Al Ahly had contracted Frenchman Patrice Carteron as their new coach, succeeding Hossam El Badry who won the title with the Red Devils in the last two seasons. Their eternal rivals Zamalek had Swiss Christian Groos as their new manager, while Ismaily recruited Algerian Khaireddine Madoui, ex African Champion with native ES Setif.

While some expect the emergence of new title contenders, it's noteworthy that the Egyptian Premier League had seen just 7 champions in its 59 full seasons history, having started in 1948-1949. Al Ahly had the lion share with 40 titles, compared to Zamalek 12, Ismaily 3, while Tersana, Olimpy, Ghazl El Mahalla and ElMokawloon Al Arab all has one title.

With the trio of El Ragaa, El Nasr and Tanta relegated last season, El Gouna and Haras El Hodood returned to the top flight, while this is going to be the first top flight season ever for Nogoom FC, a club formed in 2006 mainly for new talents development.

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