Thursday,21 June, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1357, (17 - 23 August 2017)
Thursday,21 June, 2018
Issue 1357, (17 - 23 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

The cup for Ahly

AHLY came from behind in extra time in dramatic fashion to beat Masri 2-1 and win the Egyptian Football Cup for the first time in 10 years.

The winning goal came in the 121st minute when Ahly right back Ahmed Fathi chipped the ball from close range over the advancing keeper.

Masri were close to capturing their first cup since 1998 when Abdallah Bika scored from outside the area past a diving Ikrami.

But substitute Amr Gamal tied it at 1-1 as he headed home with four minutes remaining.

Ahly, the defending league champions, had last won the competition in 2007 when they defeated perennial rivals Zamalek 4-3 in a thrilling final.

Tuesday’s final in Borg Al-Arab Stadium in Alexandria was not nearly as exciting. Players from both sides were too cautious, especially in the first half. In the second, Ahly lost three or four chances. On the whole, the players were lethargic and the long season — a cup final being played in mid-August — caught up with most of them.

Ahly had won seven league titles in the last 10 years but failed to win the double, despite reaching the Egypt Cup final three times. They lost the two previous finals to arch-rivals Zamalek, while in 2009 they lost to Haras Al-Hodoud 4-5 on penalties.

Ahly are the competition’s record holders with now 36 titles, 11 ahead of Zamalek, who have 25.

The game was played in the shadows of the 1 February 2012 massive riot which broke out at Port Said Stadium following a league match between Masri and Ahly. Seventy-four people, mostly Ahly spectators, were killed and more than 500 were injured in one of the worst tragedies in soccer history, forcing all domestic and most international fixtures to be played without fans for security concerns.

There was no chance of a repeat of the calamity. On Tuesday night, Borg Al-Arab Stadium was virtually empty.

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