Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1332, (16 - 22 February 2017)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1332, (16 - 22 February 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Zamalek super again

Goalkeeper Genesh guides the White Knights to their first Egyptian Super Cup in 15 years

The chances were very few, it wasn’t beautiful, it wasn’t entertaining and it certainly wasn’t a game to remember. But Zamalek fans won’t really care after the club clinched a must needed victory against their fierce rivals Ahly to win the Egyptian Super cup in a game held in Abu Dhabi in an unbelievable joyous atmosphere that deserved better football from both teams.

On Friday 10 February Zamalek beat Ahly 3-1 on penalties after 0-0 of regulation time to vanquish their arch rivals for the first time in five Egyptian Super Cup meetings which pits the league winners with the cup champions.

Despite enthusiastic fans, mostly Egyptian expats, it was an exceptionally dull game. However, we can easily forgive most of the players for their performance given that the international players returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon to Egypt only five days prior to the game and then flew to Abu Dhabi the following day. The likes of Ahmed Hegazi, Ahmed Fathi and Abdullah Al-Said from Ahly and Tarek Hamed and Ali Gabr from Zamalek all started each and every game for the Pharaohs in the Africa Cup of Nations and started the Super Cup game. It showed on them especially Al-Said and Fathi as both looked exhausted throughout the game until they were replaced in the second half.

The biggest chance of the game came two minutes from time to Ahly’s Junior Agai of Nigeria who misjudged a simple tap in from inside six yards from Saleh Gomaa’s brilliant pass/cross. Apart from that, the game witnessed very few chances as both teams seemed more focused on avoiding conceding rather than going forward.

Ahly were getting better and better as the game wore on and tried to find a breakthrough in the second half but the upper hand in this game went to the defenders. As their job came to an end with the final whistle, then came the chance for the two goalkeepers to shine for their teams. The first penalty kick was taken by Momen Zakaria for Ahly but the attacker failed to beat Mahmoud Genesh who saved with considerable ease. Genesh was replacing injured starter Ahmed Al-Shinnawi.


Zamalek

On the other hand, out of form striker Bassem Morsi confidently slotted home against Sherif Ikrami before Hegazi levelled the scored for Ahly. Osama Ibrahim put Zamalek in front once again before Genesh saved Saleh Gomaa’s tame shot to put Zamalek in pole position to win the game. Ahmed Refaat scored for the White Knights before Hossam Ghali blasted his penalty way over the bar to declare Zamalek as the super winners.

Both managers admitted that the game wasn’t up to the usual standard of one of the most famous derbies in the Arab world and the two agreed that the lack of proper preparation and fatigue led to the below average performance of the players, in addition to the six-week league layoff due to the African championship. Mohamed Helmi couldn’t hide his delight nevertheless after finally guiding his team to a title that had gone missing for 15 years.

Hossam Al-Badri confessed that it was never easy or nice for him and his players to lose against their biggest rivals but that penalty kicks were part of the game and that he was proud of his players who “gave their all”. He also had some great words for Agai who was his side’s best player on the pitch despite missing a sitter that would have surely won his side the game.

Both teams will now get back to business in the league. Ahly will try to ensure they stay on track to defend their title while Zamalek will once again start their journey by trying to catch Ahly. The gap between the two sides is now 11 points but the Red Devils played two more games than the Super Cup champions.

This week’s games will see Tanta come up against Misr Al-Maqasa, Dakhleya vs Aswan, Wadi Degla vs Petrojet, Arab Contractors against Ittihad, Semouha vs Sharkia, Enppi and Nasr lel Tadeen, Zamalek vs Entag and the biggest game of the week, Ahly meeting Ismaili.

Now with both Ahly and Zamalek free of international commitments or cup games, it should be a very interesting and exciting battle between the two teams for the remainder of the campaign especially that the players will be keener than ever to impress Argentine national team coach Hector Cuper who’ll be watching closely until the national side returns later this year for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

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