Sunday,19 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)
Sunday,19 August, 2018
Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

The cup is white

To compensate for their loss two weeks ago of the National League trophy to arch rivals Ahli, Zamalek was able to seize the cup title and keep it home for the second year consecutively. Abeer Anwar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

It was through Hazem Emam’s very late goal that Zamalek’s hope of a second cup title was revived. Emam scored on the 91st minute of the match after Zamalkawia fans had held their breath all through the official match time to beat Smouha’s 10-man team 1-0 . The goal was a rescue for Zamalek players and newly appointed coach, Ahmed Hossam, “Mido,” whose team lost the league final just a few days before to arch-rivals, Ahli.

Mido took over as Zamalek’s technical manager in 2013. Ever since Mortada Mansour, Zamalek’s newly elected president, took over a number of clashes has occurred between both sides. However, all fights and disputes were resolved after the White Castle was able to keep the cup title home for the second time. Mido announced that he will continue to work as Zamalek’s technical manager. Mortada Mansour has announced that Mido will be the one to lead the team in the coming period after a number of rumours had spread that Mortada will reshuffle the team’s technical board and that Mido had resigned.

“I am very much honoured to be able to lead the White Knights to the first title in my career as a coach. I did all my best all through the season and I am very much satisfied with my players’ performance. They played very well and followed instructions and they were always enthusiastic and eager to win,” he said, adding  that the Zamalkawia will witness a new face of Zamalek after new players have been signed lately for Zamalek and who will join the team in the coming period. “We have signed big names and talented players and I think this will make Zamalek a newly-born team who will be able to compete against arch-rivals Ahli and some of these players will shine in the team’s coming African contender next week,” he said.

This victory and the cup lifted Zamalek’s players spirits after they ranked third in the Egyptian Premier League behind Ahli and Smouha.

Zamalek, who crushed Wadi Degla 3-0 in last year’s final, were unable to celebrate their victory as usual as the match was played with no spectators behind closed doors at Cairo’s army-owned Air Defence Stadium due to security concerns. The match was shifted to the Air Defense stadium after both Zamalek and Smouha officially refused to play in Aswan as was planned by the Egyptian Football Federation. Zamalek complained of the very hot weather in Aswan and Smouha objected to the long distance to travel.

After Mansour dedicated the Egypt Cup trophy to the victims of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza strip, fans did not celebrate the victory as a solidarity stand with Gaza. “I dedicate the Egypt Cup to the martyrs of Gaza,” Mansour told the Abu Dhabi TV channel right after the game. I hope to see Arab leaders working together hand in hand to address all the chaos taking place in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Gaza.”

Since the cup’s final match was not broadcast on Egyptian local TV channels, a good number of Egyptian fans and Zamalkawia were at a loss on where to follow the game. The match was to be broadcasted only through Abu Dhabi Sports channel which bought the rights of broadcast just a few days before the final contender. As a result, a huge number of football fans resorted to cafes and clubs to watch the game. Mohamed Ahmed, a Zamalkawi fan, argued, “I kept asking my friends and neighbours about which channel will broadcast the match and no one gave me a right answer. I found out minutes after the game started and I had to run to the nearest café. Thank God I missed just a little.” He went on to say that the channel should have been announced clearly and beforehand to make it easier for fans to follow their team on TV. “Isn’t it enough that we are not allowed to attend matches in stadiums,” he lamented.

The match was preceeded by a dreadful incident that recalled the bad memories  involving the Ultras and their violent behaviour and actions during matches, which led to a ban on public attendance since then. The bus carrying the Smouha team players was attacked on its way to the Air Defence Stadium just a few hours before the Egypt Cup final clash with Zamalek. A group of suspected Zamalek fans targeted the Smouha bus with stones and mega fireworks, resulting in minor damages to the vehicle. First-team players Ahmed ‘Ouka’ Saied and Hassan Gomaa picked up slight injuries.

 “What some Zamalek fans did will for sure have no impact on the team’s concentration or long relations with Zamalek,” Smouha chairman Farag Amer commented. “I’m proud of my players for all what they have achieved and today they were up to challenge.” On his twitter account, nevertheless, he attacked the match’s referee, Gehad Greisha, for kicking out Tarek Hemeid, one of the team’s stars, for no reason, to leave Smouha with only ten players and thereby bringing the team’s dream of clinching the cup title for their first-ever trophy to an end.

On the other hand, Smouha coach, Hamada Sedqi, attributted his team’s loss of the Egypt Cup final game to Zamalek to the dip in form throughout the game of Greisha.

“Referee Greisha wasn’t up to the game. Choosing him to officiate at the game was a wrong decision,” Smouha coach was quoted as saying after the match.”He took several wrong decisions throughout the game, with the most consequential one being the dismissal of midfielder Tarek Hamed,” he added.

As Smouha finished the runners up of the Egyptian Premier League, they will play in the African Champions League next term. They are this season’s surprise package for reaching the cup final.

“I am proud of my players’ performance despite losing the cup. I congratulate Zamalek coach, Mido, for his tactics during the game,” Sedqi said. “I promise Smouha will clinch all of the titles next season, despite having lost all the titles this season,” the Smouha coach concluded.

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