18 - 24 February 1999
Issue No. 417
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Features Special Travel Living Sports People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
Court fineBy Nashwa Abdel-Tawab
Although crowd disturbance in major spectator sports abroad has been on the rise for several years now, incidence among fans in Egypt has been rare and far between. Still, the proverbial rotten apples rear their ugly heads every once in awhile. The latest example saw Zamalek fans rampage following the club's 87-82 defeat by Ahli. Ahli's Alaa Zahran and Amr Saber were injured along with several Ahli fans in the melee. Zamalek was promptly slapped with a LE4,000 fine and ordered to play three home matches away in Cairo Stadium's indoor complex.
Strangely enough, the punishment only seemed to galvanise the team. In the two matches following the ban, Zamalek beat Mehalla 106-65 and Tersana 106-66. The fact that few of their fans bothered to show up in Cairo Stadium's indoor complex, where Zamalek was banished, did not appear to deter the club, as indicated not only by the victories but the potent offensive used to achieve the results. The two plus 100-point games made Zamalek the only club this season to have gone over the 100 mark three times. The club had trounced Shams 117-78 earlier in the season.
Zamalek team displaying better basketball in front of Tersana with no fans
photo: Medhat Abdel-Meguid
Apparently, Zamalek plays better the rowdier its fans become. Last year, a similar case of hooliganism by Zamalek fans led to a LE2,000 fine, and yet the club won the league title, having gone the entire season unbeaten. This year, however, Zamalek has already lost to Ittihad and Ahli, though it still has a decent chance of finishing in the top five and another shot at the title. With seven games remaining, Ittihad of Alexandria leads the standings with 18 points, followed by Ahli on 17 points and Zamalek with 16.
Top clubs Gezira and Ittihad kept up their winning ways. Gezira beat the Arab Contractors 83-74 in what most experts described as the week's best match. It was a close encounter throughout as the lead changed hands several times. Gezira's Ashraf El-Kursi led his team to victory with four successive three-pointers.
In Alexandria, Ittihad beat Tanta 81-60 in a ho-hum match whose lopsided result was anticipated beforehand.
The league will now break until 16 March as the national team travels to Italy to play several friendlies in preparation for the African Nations Championship to be held in Angola from 29 July to 8 August. The winner of the African tournament qualifies for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.