Wednesday,21 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)
Wednesday,21 November, 2018
Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

All in a day’s work

Another day, another title for Ahly, reports Marawan Zayed

There is no stopping Hossam Al-Badri and his team as they add yet another crown to their already packed cabinet. This time they managed to overcome a stubborn Masri side to win the Egyptian Super Cup thanks to a hugely lucky strike from their Moroccan striker Walid Azzaro.

The only goal of the game came in the 100th minute in extra time after both teams failed to find the back of the net in 90 minutes. The goal came in bizarre fashion as Masri’s unlucky goalkeeper Ahmed Massoud tried to dribble past Azzaro only to see the Moroccan striker anticipate the move, steal the ball and slot it home into an empty net to give the Red Devils the lead 20 minutes before the end of extra time.

The huge howler from Massoud was the last thing coach Hossam Hassan wanted after seeing his team play a magnificent defensive game and didn’t look in danger at all until that unlucky moment. The remaining time of the game saw Masri push forward trying to find an equaliser leaving some spaces behind them with the Devils coming very close on a couple of occasions through Momen Zakaria who first missed a glorious chance from inside the six yards before being denied by Massoud with a decent save. Zakaria was determined to score in his last game with the club before leaving to Saudi side Ahly but couldn’t find a way past Massoud as Azzaro’s goal sealed the 10th Egyptian Super Cup title for Ahly.

The game once again was played at Hazaa Ibn Zayed Stadium in Al-Ein, in the UAE in an unbelievable atmosphere and organisation. The game was played there for commercial reasons as well as giving the thousands of Egyptian fans living in the UAE the chance to see their team play live in front of them especially with games back home being played behind closed doors without fans for security reasons, which pushed Presentation to take the game abroad. And rightly so. The stadium was almost full even though it was Ahly against Masri, not Ahly rivals Zamalek.

A delighted Al-Badri admitted his side got lucky with this one but insisted they deserved the win as they were more adventurous and played to win while the opponents edfended for most of the game, adding that luck always stands by those who work hard.

Hassan on the other hand lamented the way they lost the game but praised his players and refused to blame Massoud for his mistake, saying these kinds of things happened to the greatest of players or goalkeepers.


Ahly

Moving to the Egyptian league, Ismaili failed to extend their lead at the top of the table in the absence of Ahly as they played out a goalless draw against Ittihad at home much to the surprise of their fans who predicted an easy win against a struggling side. The draw took Ismaili to 41 points at the top of the table, two points above Ahly with the Red Devils having two gamed in hand. Maximum points for Al-Badri in these two games would take their tally to 45 points, four above Ismaili.

Zamalek on the other hand find themselves completely outside the title race even though we’re still in the middle of the season. They have only 28 points from 17 games as their instability outside the field continues to haunt them badly. Their ever controversial president Mortada Mansour decided to dismiss yet another manager last week as he sacked Nibojsa and appointed Ihab Galal who left Enppi to fulfil his dream of managing one of the biggest two teams in the country. Galal is highly rated and is considered by many people the best Egyptian coach in football these days, so it made perfect sense to appoint him if you’re going for an Egyptian coach, not a foreigner. However, his appointment seems strange as Mansour bashed Galal numerous times in the past when Zamalek faced some of the teams he managed and called him a “small” manager who knows nothing about the game and that he would never ever reach the top. But all of a sudden we find him signing a one-and-a-half year contract with the White Knights but as expected Galal’s first game ended in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Ahly in a hugely one sided game but Galal couldn’t be faulted for the defeat as he took the helm just one day before the game.

As for the relegation battle it looks as if we’ll witness another thrilling fight that will include six or seven teams that will take it to the very end of the season. Rock bottom in 18th place sits Raja with 12 points from 18 games, only eight points adrift of 12th place Assiouti with the same number of games. Nasr, Wadi Degla, Tanta, Petrojet and Ittihad complete the list of teams that’ll fight it out against relegation this season with the battle for the title less thrilling, with only Ahly and Ismaili having a real go.

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