Monday,17 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)
Monday,17 December, 2018
Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Team effort

Ahly are the winners of this year’s Handball Professional League and, with it, the majority of Egyptian team sports, reports Inas Mazhar

 

By capturing the Handball Professional League, powerhouse Ahly gave themselves their second consecutive league title after they beat their long-time arch-rivals Zamalek 27-26 in a close, dramatic final held in Ismailia on Monday. Though Ahly took the lead in the first half 16-9, the While Castle of Zamalek managed to take full control of the second half by applying maximum pressure on the Red Devils while taking the game to a more intense level. However, it was the defending champions Ahly who ended the match in their favour as they clinched the trophy in the last second of the game.

The game was held to decide the league champion after the sport’s top two powerhouses Ahly and Zamalek had drawn in total points at the end of the season with 29 each. Actually, it was a double victory for coach Assem Hamad’s men who not only won this title, but also beat their archrival opponent, not just any team, to avenge their loss in March to Zamalek in the final of the Super Cup African. The Reds did manage to win the African Winners’ Cup Championship last month after beating Tunisian club African for the second time in a row. And for that, the club’s handball family and club members celebrated all night.

According to Ahly’s Amr Al-Qalyoubi, the league final was a tough and difficult game “but Ahly managed to pass the test and snatch the title”. The player, commonly known as Baggio, attributed the victory to the player’s will and determination. “It was very important for us to defeat Zamalek and win this title especially after our last loss in the league competition, which had levelled our scores and therefore brought us here to this decisive match. But we managed to claim it in the end,” Baggio said, adding that the team is also determined to add the FA Cup title to make it a triple victory. “This is our next goal and the players have vowed to do so.”

Ahly’s handball victory was the latest of their triumphs in Egyptian team sports in general. The club has been dominant across the boards winning the lion’s share of crowns in handball, basketball and volleyball. The beginning of the year saw Ahly winning the juniors league basketball title, then the cup two months later after an exciting final against Sporting Club of Alexandria. Ahly women had also captured the league and cup and are the favourites to win the Super Cup.

The club’s volleyballers had a brilliant season as well, after the team recaptured the league title after a long absence, followed by the cup. The club then hosted the African volleyball Champions League and won that, too. Ahly women followed in the footsteps of the men, sweeping the titles of the season — the national league, cup and the African championship.

And though the football league is still ongoing, Ahly were announced the winner several weeks in advance, winning the trophy for the 40th time in their history and the third season in a row. They also ended the season by shattering the Egyptian record of most points in a season, 85, and most goals scored, 73. The squad, dubbed the African Club of the Century, is currently taking part in the group stages of the African Champions League.

All in all, Ahli’s dominant performance translated to 90 per cent victory in all team sports titles in the country this season.

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