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30 Nov. - 6 Dec. 2000
Issue No.510
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The big turnaround

By Abeer Anwar

After an opening salvo by Canon, Zamalek struck four uninterrupted times
photo: Salah Ibrahim
Zamalek trounced Canon Yaounde of Cameroon 4-1 in the first leg of the African Cup Winner's Cup final, taking a step closer to winning the trophy for the first time in the club's history.

A record four-time winner of the African Champions' Cup, Zamalek was stunned by an eighth-minute goal from Yaounde striker Mebenga, who silenced the Cairo Stadium crowd of 50,000 with a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area.

The Cairo club wasted several chances before defender Hossam Abdel-Moneim connected with a corner kick in the 25th minute, heading past the Yaounde goalkeeper to bring Zamalek back to the game. Two minutes later, Tarek El-Said converted a penalty kick after being brought down in the area by Yaounde keeper, who earned a red card for the tackle.

Substitute Abdel-Hamid Bassiouni added the third for Zamalek in the 52nd minute when he timed his run perfectly to meet a pass from Khaled El-Ghandour and calmly slid the ball in from close range.

Another substitute, Abdel-Latif El-Domani, made it 4-1 in the 76th minute, meeting a long cross from defender Haitham Farouk and coolly chipping the ball into the net.

At the end, both teams stood in a minute of silence for Hassan Amer, a former president of Zamalek club, who died on Saturday.

The second leg of the Canon-Zamalek encounter is scheduled for 10 December in Yaounde. At stake is not just an African championship but the World Clubs Championship in Spain in January. The championship will include two African clubs -- the winner of the African Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions Cup.

"I'm very satisfied with the team's performance especially since the players obeyed all my instructions and followed them carefully," Zamalek's German coach Otto Pfister said. "But we should not be overconfident." Victory, he said, is still very much up in the air especially since the next game is away. "We should concentrate in the coming two weeks on remedying the weak points in this match and prepare well for the second game."

Pfister said he would have liked to have the Hossam twins playing but "new faces were able to play a very good match and did their best." Hossam and Ibrahim's late transfer from Ahli prevented them from playing in Zamalek's African journey.

Canon coach Aukunu was beside himself after the loss and called the referee unfair in kicking out the goalkeeper and awarding a penalty. "This messed up the whole team." But Aukunu did not think all was lost. "I think we can easily beat Zamalek 3-0 at home."

Meanwhile, a decision has been postponed as to possible punitive measures that might be taken against Zamalek because of an injury to a referee last week during a match between Zamalek and the Arab Contractors. Reda El-Beltagi was struck and injured in the face by an object thrown from the stands during the half-time break. El-Beltagi had just awarded the Contractors a penalty which it converted.

The referee cancelled the match but in his report did not accuse anyone of throwing what appeared to be a stone. "I did not see who did it," said Beltagi, whose cut above the right eyebrow left him bloodied and in need of two stitches.

The Egyptian Football Federation postponed its decision until after Zamalek's match with Canon.

According to the rules as laid out by the federation, if a referee is unable to pinpoint a culprit as is the present case the match will be replayed without any spectators.

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