|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
24 - 30 May 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Double deathWithin three days, two of Egypt's premier football clubs lost to Saudi squads in sudden death. Alaa Shahine examines the double headache
FIFA's golden goal proved a boon for Saudi Arabia and a bust for Egypt.
Al-Yami ran Ahli's defenders ragged. Amin, here trying to halt the Saudi's march on goal, was especially vulnerable to the forward's pace
photos: Salah Ibrahim
Al-Ittihad's captain receives the Super Cup from Egypt's Youth Minister Alyiddin Hilal
The format, in which the first team to score in overtime wins the match, was introduced in the mid-1990's to avoid as much as possible reaching penalty shoot-outs which most people consider to be a matter of luck. After last week, however, Ahli would certainly have preferred to have taken its chances with the spot kicks.
In the first Egyptian-Saudi Super Cup, Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad swept by Egypt's Ismaili and Ahli, both wins coming by way of the golden goal.
Ten minutes had passed in Ismaili's match against Al-Hilal in the Cup Winners Cup clash in Jeddah, which had ended 1-1 in regulation time, when Khaled Al-Timawi's shot deflected off the head of an Ismaili defender to find its way in the back of the net.
The scenario was more or less repeated two days later in Cairo between league champions Ahli and Ittihad but it took only three minutes for Al-Ittihad to silence the 40,000-strong home crowd when sensational striker Al-Hassan Al-Yami struck for a 3-2 overtime victory for the guests.
The results left Egyptian football reeling in this, the inaugural edition of the championship which was the brainchild three years ago of Prince Faisal Bin Fahd and former Egyptian Football Association President Samir Zahir.
Since the national team's humiliating 5-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia in the 1999 Confederations Cup, Egyptian teams have grudgingly had to admit the progress Saudi Arabia has made in the sport in the past two decades and have had to come to terms with the fact that the Kingdom's players are no longer pushovers.
In Jeddah, Al-Hilal went ahead against the run of the play after veteran striker Sami Al-Jaber weaved his way into the penalty area, helped by sloppy man-to-man marking, and rolled the ball to Abdullah Al-Jam'an who scored into an empty net in the 42nd minute.
Ismaili entered the second half storming and virtually ran the show. Its dominance paid off in the 67th minute when Mohamed Abu Greisha, who hit the post in the first half, found the mark the second time around with a close-range effort.
Ismaili continued to be the more dangerous side as the half wore on but in extra time Al-Timawi, who came in as a substitute got close enough for a shot that would have been saved had not an Ismaili head got in the way. The result was a 2-1 Al-Hilal victory, the President Hosni Mubarak Cup and LE675,000 in prize money.
"We were close to winning," said Ismaili coach Mohsen Saleh. "But the players wasted chances and played to show off rather than win."
In Cairo, playing for the King Fahd Cup and LE750,000, Al-Ittihad had the upper hand in the first half thanks to the odd tactics adopted by Ahli's German coach Hans Dorner who left Alaa Ibrahim alone up front to cope with four Al-Ittihad defenders.
Al-Ittihad's Brazilian striker, Sergio, gave his team the lead three minutes before the break after a clever back-heel pass from Al-Yami.
The second half saw Ibrahim shake off his markers long enough to score in the 58th minute with a shot that left keeper Mabrouk Zaied stranded.
Less than a minute later, though, the exciting Al-Yami, selected the man of the match, threaded the ball past Essam El-Hadari to make it 2-1.
Ahli's quest for an equaliser ended in the 76th minute when Khaled Bibo's relatively weak grounder shot squirted through Zaied's fingers.
Al-Ittihad could have won in the dying seconds had Italian Michel Glisi's penalty shot not caromed off the crossbar. Just before the whistle, Sergio was sent off for jostling with Ahli defender Hussein Amin.
Ahli supporters would probably say they wished Amin would have gone to the showers with Sergio after he and Hussein Shukri got their signals crossed as Al-Yami ghosted past them to slip the ball past El-Hadari.
Ahli's sole consolation was a LE250,000 cheque.
Recommend this page
© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved
Letter from the Editor
|WEEKLY ONLINE: www.ahram.org.eg/weekly
Updated every Saturday at 11.00 GMT, 2pm local time