The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Runaway pair resume two-horse title race
Defending champions Ahed have not lost a domestic match since February 2017
BEIRUT: Five games into the season and the Lebanese Premier League table has a familiar look to it.
Nejmeh and Ahed have swiftly distanced themselves from the chasing pack, with a five-point gap forming between the top two and third place Akhaa Ahli Aley.
Early defeats to city rivals Ahed and Nejmeh have almost certainly put paid to any hopes of a serious title challenge for revamped Ansar, while perennial contenders Safa are rooted to the foot of the table.
A two-horse race involving the capital juggernauts was always on the cards, but the rate at which it has materialized will be rather disheartening for the rest of the league and the local federation in particular.
Two-time defending champions Ahed have not lost a domestic match since February 2017, and they are widely expected to preserve that mark when they host secondbottom Tripoli Friday.
Bassem Marmar will continue to be without injured league top scorer Martin Toshev, while center-back Khalil Khamis is also expected to be missing. Ahmad Zreik will make his second appearance since shaking off a knee problem, with the pacey winger joining a menacing attack alongside Mohammad Haidar, Rabih Ataya and Akram Moghrabi.
A win would provisionally lift Ahed to the summit of the standings, with the Beirut club currently on 13 points from five matches.
Tripoli, meanwhile, are yet to register a win this season and have managed just a solitary goal from their woeful start.
Also Friday, Ansar will be eager to bounce back from last week’s 10 loss to Ahed when they face struggling Shabab al-Ghazieh.
The 13-time champions’ middling form has gleaned seven points so far, but victory against Ghazieh would see them rise to third place.
Nejmeh can maintain their perfect start away to Al-Bekaa Saturday, with the early pacesetters reinvigorated by the return of talisman Hasan Maatouk.
Boris Bunjak’s side are averaging almost three goals a game, while their miserly back line has conceded just three times.