Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
8 - 14 June 2000
Issue No. 485
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

 
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Grand they were

By Alaa Shahine

In a game that produced the most goals -- and superlatives -- this season, Ismaili turned back a valiant Ahli challenge to eventually tame the league giants 4-3.

Down 3-0 in the second half, Ahli clawed its way to level 3-3 before finally succumbing to a frenetic last-minute goal that capped one of the more inspiring Click-GSM-sponsored season matches.

Despite the defeat, Ahli remained on top with 54 points, only four points away from its seventh consecutive league title. Ismaili upped its record to 44 points, one behind second-place Zamalek which barely got by lowly Aluminium 3-2.

Mohamed Barakat scored the go-ahead goal for Ismaili in the fourth minute through a penalty kick. Ahli's keeper Essam El-Hadari kept the game close with several fine saves in the first. In the second half, John Otaka, a Nigerian import, made it 2-0 when he slipped through for a breakaway following a massive misunderstanding between Youssef Yacoub and Hadi Khashaba. Ismaili's third goal came in the 52nd minute through Khaled Bebo who rose to meet a pinpoint cross by Otaka.

A rout of the defending champions seemed in the offing, while a 4-2 defeat of Ahli by Ismaili in 1964 must have crossed the minds of several spectators in the Ismailia stands. But the comeback started in the 54th minute through a spot kick by Ibrahim Said when Sami Qomsaan, Ahli's undisputed star in the match, was obstructed in the penalty area. Ten minutes later, Mohamed Farouk, whose awkward attempt at clearing gave Ismaili its spot kick, made amends with a brilliant header that left Ismaili's Moroccan goalkeeper, Abdel-Qader Al-Parazi, helpless. The improbable equaliser came by way of Said in the 70th minute, again by a penalty kick. But Ismaili had the last word as Barakat fired a low scorcher from just outside the box with three minutes to go.

"My boys did a great job and our victory is well-deserved," Mohsen Saleh, Ismaili's coach, told reporters after the match. He added his players could have won handily had they taken advantage of the scoring opportunities that fell their way.

Ismaili and Ahli
Barakat runs for the sidelines to celebrate after scoring Ismaili's fourth and winning goal against Ahli
photo: Mohamed Wassim
Reiner Tsobil, Ahli's German coach, did not feel too bad either. "We were not that bad and I cannot blame any of my players," he said. "Ismaili was wonderful and we did our best."

In Cairo, Zamalek got by in a 3-2 victory over Aluminum. But with only four league matches left, Zamalek has virtually conceded defeat. The club remained in second place with 45 points, nine points behind Ahli.

After a lacklustre first half, Abdel-Latif El-Domani opened the scoring for Zamalek in the 55th minute when he received a brilliant through ball by Ayman Abdel-Aziz and found himself in a one-on-one situation with the keeper, firing the ball into the back of the net. The lead was short-lived. In the very same minute, Ibrahim Ba'roor levelled the score for Aluminum when he took advantage of sloppy defence and netted his team's first goal. In the 63rd minute, junior sensation Ahmed Hossam pushed Zamalek ahead once more when he penetrated into Aluminum's penalty area and unleashed a shot into the net. Zamalek goalkeeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsif, recently given the call for the national team, fumbled a weak shot by Hamada Fati in the 72nd minute and conceded an easy goal. But Hossam scored Zamalek's third goal to save some blushes. Aluminium bid farewell to the first division after managing only 14 points.

In other encounters, Mansoura edged Kouroum of Alexandria 2-1, the Arab Contractors beat Misri away 2-0, Canal snatched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Dina and Suez drubbed Sharqiya 3-1.


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