|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
4 - 10 January 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Zamalek on a high
It has been a seven-year itch for Zamalek. For seven years, the squad has finished second to Ahli in the premier league and has been itching to turn the tables. With slightly over half the season played, Zamalek's fortunes have finally been reversed. It is atop the league with 36 points, two points ahead of Ahli. Its 27 goals have been the most of any team. Only Ahli has conceded less goals.
The much-talked about Zamalek-Contractors rematch
Photo: Hani Reda
Zamalek began the season with five acquisitions that have helped push the squad into first place and make a serious run at the title after years of playing second fiddle to Ahli. By year's end, Zamalek easily beat the Arab Contractors 3-1 in a replay which was the most talked-about match in the first half of the season. The first match was abandoned mid-way through -- with the Contractors leading 1-0 -- after referee Reda El-Beltagui was injured in the face by a stone thrown from the stands. After consulting with FIFA, the Egyptian Football Federation ordered the match to be replayed with no spectators allowed. Both teams were fined LE50,000.
Ahli ended the first half with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Ismailia which left them trailing Zamalek. But the team did gain the services of two promising Nigerian imports while former stars Samir Kammouna and Mohamed Farouq returned from Germany and Turkey to shore up the defence and offensive lines.
In the 91 matches played thus far, 194 goals have been scored, 295 yellow cards were given -- 34 to Qanah alone -- and 17 players were sent off. Two players were suspended for the rest of the season for making obscene gestures. Tareq El-Said from Zamalek, Mohamed El-Boushi from Tersana, Yasser Mohamed from Misri and Ashraf Mamdouh from Maaden topped the goal scorers with seven goals each.
Sayed Abdel-Hafeez, Yasser El-Misri, Ashraf Mamdouh and Mohanad El-Boushi scored hat-tricks. Hani Younis, Ayman Said and Wael Kamel scored own goals. Out of 28 penalty kicks, 24 were converted.
There will be few league matches played in January. The month is reserved for seven international games. Coming to town for games on 6 and 9 January will be the United Arab Emirates and Zambia in warm-up friendlies. The real test begins in Cairo on 14 January against Libya in an African Nations Cup qualifier. A four-nation tournament in Iran will pit Egypt against Italy on the 17th; Egypt will then play the winner of the China-Iran encounter on 19 January. Back in Cairo, on the 23rd, another friendly awaits against North Korea, followed by a crucial home game against Morocco on the 28th in a World Cup qualifier.
The premier league standings P W D L GF GA Pts Zamalek 14 11 3 0 27 7 36 Ahli 14 10 4 0 25 6 34 Misri 14 6 8 0 22 9 26 Ismaili 14 6 5 3 18 11 23 Arab Contractors 14 5 4 5 14 14 19 Qanah 14 5 4 5 11 11 19 Maaden 14 4 6 4 21 18 18 Ittihad 14 5 3 6 14 19 18 Tersana 14 3 5 6 16 25 14 Mansoura 14 3 4 7 12 17 13 Dina 14 2 6 6 8 14 12 Mehalla 14 1 9 4 8 14 12 Sohag Railways 14 1 5 8 5 22 8 Kuroum 14 0 6 8 9 25 6
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