Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)
Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Issue 1345, (18 - 24 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Fits and starts

Zamalek win and Ahly stumble at the start of their African Champions League group stage journey

Al-Badri and his team were clearly out of sorts against Zanaco

Egyptian giants Ahly and Zamalek kick started their African Champions League group stage journey this week but with completely different outcomes. First, the White Knights of Zamalek faced CAPS United of Zimbabwe at home hoping to get through the game with maximum points to ease the pressure on themselves going forward. Thankfully they managed to do so 2-0 even though the performance was far from good. However, the three points are all what matter at the beginning.

The first half was one of the most ineffective and boring 45 minutes you’ll see in the competition this season as both teams failed to do anything significant; both goalkeepers could have easily stayed home. In the second half the home team showed more urgency and determination to break the deadlock and attacked aggressively until Bassem Morsi scored in the 56th minute with a good header from Shikabala’s glorious cross. The goal encouraged Morsi’s teammates to go forward more and play with more confidence after the hesitant start to the game and missed some good chances until Stanley sealed the win with another header in the 83rd minute much to the delight of the fans who were surely worried before the game, given the recent league form of their team.

Despite Zamalek’s comfortable win, the team is second in the standings of the group after a 3-0 win for USM Alger against Al Ahli Tripoli. The next game for Zamalek will be against USM Alger in Cairo once again and with both sides winning their opening games, this encounter should be very entertaining and attack minded. A win for the White Knights will see them put one leg in the quarter-finals while a loss at home will mean they have to start all over again.

Morsi guided his team to a valuable win against CAPS United

On the other hand and against all the odds, it was the Red Devils of Ahly who stumbled in their opening game at home against a mediocre side in the form of Zanaco of Zambia. The game ended in a boring goalless draw as the players and their coach were clearly out of sorts and failed to show up. The visitors understandably defended deep and seemed determined to go back home with anything from the game. Ahly found no answers from Hossam Ghali or the rest of his teammates. Moreover, off the pitch coach Hossam Al-Badri seemed lost and unable to motivate his team and push them forward as his formation and team selection were bemusing and didn’t suit the players on the field.

Soliman Colibaly was left at the front on his own with fellow striker Junior Agai put out of position on the wing which limited his threat on goal. Abdullah Al-Said and Mido Gaber completed the attacking midfielders playing under Colibaly but both had a very bad day at the office and failed to create or threaten the goalkeeper throughout the game.

There was no urgency or determination from the home players as if they expected to win if they just showed up and now they’ve put themselves in a very difficult situation after dropping points at home in their first game.

Egypt beat Yemen 1-0 at the Cairo Stadium

The other game of the group ended in a 2-0 win for Wydad Casablanca over visitors Cotton Sport of Cameroon which means the Moroccan side tops the group before travelling to Egypt to face Al-Badri and his team at home again. There is no doubt that the Egyptian side will have no option but to win to make up for the lost points of the first game while the Moroccan side will hope to put one leg in the next round if they manage to go back home with maximum points. A loss for the Egyptian side will all but end their hopes of qualifying for the last eight.

Leaving the African Champions League and moving to the local national team, Hani Ramzi’s men managed to defeat fellow Arab team Yemen by a single goal in their friendly in Cairo thanks to Hesham Mohamed’s strike. The game lacked intensity and wasn’t really entertaining as our national side missed most of its core players that could be at the World Cup next year but Ramzi will surely be pleased with another win and a clean sheet.

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