Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1312, (22-28 September 2016)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1312, (22-28 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Wins local and African

Ahly triumphed in their domestic league opener and Zamalek thrashed Al Wydad Casablanca in the semi-final of the African Champions League, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

New manager Hossam Al-Badri started his third spell with Ahly with an extremely hard fought victory over an average Ismaili side thanks to Abdullah Al-Said’s controversial penalty in the 78th minute. Games between Ahly and Ismaili have always been entertaining, however, this one was awful as both teams failed to impress or even show glimpses of what they should be doing.

In the second half, Ahly controlled the game in terms of ball possession but again failed to really threaten Ismaili’s goal apart from some half chances from Mohamed Neguib and Mo’men Zakaria until Al-Said hit the post in the 74th minute with a great volley from just inside the box. Three minutes later Al-Said was given the chance to win it for his team when Amr Gamal was awarded a slightly soft penalty after Mahmoud Metwalli fouled the young striker in the air without the ball. Al-Said made no mistake from the spot to hand Al-Badri maximum points from his first game, which matters given that the incoming coach will need more time convey his ideas to the players even though it is Al-Badri’s third stint as Ahly coach.

Ismaili’s coach Emad Suleiman praised his defenders, saying they played a very good game and limited the threat of Ahly’s attackers but was left disappointed with the attacking display of his team. “We defended very well throughout the game and the players gave their all to limit the danger of a very strong attacking side in the form of Ahly but we certainly need to do better in the attacking third as we lacked the tools to score or even come close to scoring which surely disappoints me.”

Al-Badri admitted his side didn’t play the best of games but stressed that starting the season with a win is all what matters especially if they’re playing one of the title contenders.

In other matches in the league, newcomers Tanta, Sharkia and Al-Nasr Lel Tadeen were all welcomed to the league in somewhat harsh style as they opened their season with defeats. Tanta were beaten 3-0 at the hands of Maqasa away from home while Sharkia lost at home to Semouha 2-1 and finally Enppi thrashed Al-Nasr 4-0 which was more or less a reality check for all three teams to know what they’re about to experience throughout the season.

Aswan defeated Dakhleya 2-0 in Aswan, Petrojet defeated Wadi Degla 1-0 in the 94th minute, Ittihad beat the Arab Contractors 3-1 and finally Al-Geish defeated Masri 2-1 in a thrilling encounter that could have witnessed plenty of goals if not for the bad finishing from both teams. There is one postponed game; Zamalek and Al-Entag Al-Harbi will be played later as Zamalek had to play the semi-final of the Champions League at the same time.

Moving to this game, the White Knights played a near perfect game as they destroyed Moroccan side Al Wydad Casablanca in Cairo as the game ended in a 4-0 win for the Egyptian giants thanks to Shikabala, Ayman Hefni, Bassem Morsi and Mustafa Fathi who all scored to put Zamalek on the road to the final. The scoreline could have easily been much higher as Zamalek players missed a host of chances throughout the 90 minutes. The Moroccan side needs a miracle to overcome Zamalek in the second leg as they need to score five goals and concede none to book a ticket to the final. Given what happened in the first leg this seems almost impossible even though football has taught us that miracles do happen.

Mo’men Suleiman, who was appointed permanent manager of the club just two months ago, was understandably delighted with his team and said that the absence of self-egos in the dressing room is the key factor why his team showed flashes of brilliance.

He also reminded his players that the job is not over as they still have another 90 minutes to officially reach the final.

Leaving the field but not what happens on it, this year we had a completely different competition regarding the Egyptian league. This competition was between various parties and entities regarding the exclusivity of airing the league and snatching the big names to present and analyse the matches on their channels. It was a peaceful war and ended up with two completely new channels winning the rights of airing the league this season. DMC Sports and On Sport are the new two channels that will be airing the league this season with the latter owned by the famous Egyptian businessman Abu Hashima who promised to make the channel one of the best in the Middle East, not just Egypt. Abu Hashima apparently meant business, having managed to sign star names like Hazem Emam, Mido and Khaled Bayoumi to present and analyse the league in addition to some well-respected figures in Egyptian football in the form of Taha Ismail, Farouk Gaafar, Magdi Abdel-Ghani and Ali Maher.

As for the commentators they signed with some big names as well like Ahmed Al-Tayeb and Ayman Al- Kashef in addition to Mo’men Hassan and Mohamed Al-Ghiati who was retained by the channel from last year.

As for DMC, they also managed to sign up some top notch pundits and well respected soccer figures in the country in the form of former Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan who’s taking this opportunity for the first time in addition to Hassan Al-Mistikawi, Ibrahim Fayek and Zakaria Nassef.

Obviously both channels want to do their best and hopefully they’ll manage to cover the league better than ever especially that this season promises to be very strong and entertaining with the two new managers Al-Badri and Suleiman going head to head to get their clubs to the very top in Egypt and Africa.

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