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By ESPN Staff
May 13, 2006

Al Ahli on brink of another runway league win

CAIRO, May 13 (Reuters) - African champions Al Ahli need one point from the capital derby against second-placed Zamalek on Sunday to win a second successive Egyptian league title.

They are also close to a clinching the league title without defeat for the second time in a row with three rounds remaining in the league.

Al Ahli have not lost a game in Egypt or in African club competition since July 2004, in the process also winning the African Champions League in November.

Last season they won 24 of their 26 league matches and drew the other two to finish 31 points ahead of runners-up ENPPI.

The Cairo club, who enjoy widespread popularity throughout the Arab world, have won 20 of their 23 matches played this season, drawing the other three.

They have an eight-point lead over Zamalek, who can finish no worse than second and are guaranteed a place in next year's African Champions League.

On Friday, Zamalek lifted the suspension of four players banned for indiscipline, including Ibrahim Said who played for Egypt in their African Nations Cup triumph earlier this year. It is, however, not clear whether they will play on Sunday.

The derby pits two Portuguese coaches against each other in Al Ahli's Manuel Jose and Zamalek's Manuel Cajuda. Zamalek have lost just one game since Cajuda took charge in January.

Sunday's match is expected to fill the 70,000 capacity Cairo stadium and will be officiated by Scottish referee Stuart Dougal, keeping up a long-standing tradition of inviting European referees to handle the often tempestuous rivalry.