كتب : محمد سبع | الثلاثاء، 22 مايو 2007 - 13:54
Analysis: More than Just a Derby Victory for Zamalek
A first-half goal from Tamer Abdul-Hamid and another from Gamal Hamza after the break were enough to give Zamalek a much awaited win.
It is true that Ahli fielded a second-string team, after securing the league title, but everyone knows that does not take away from Zamalek’s win.
Ahli came on strong in the first six minutes and rattled Zamalek’s players, who seemed worried about conceding an early goal and suffering yet another disastrous defeat.
However, Ahli’s feeble early attempts soon came to an end and Zamalek’s players suddenly realized their opponents were nothing but toothless lions and from there on, Zamalek looked the more likely winners for much of the match.
With Shikabala running the plays and forcing Ahli’s midfielders to fall back and support their defenders Zamalek were able to control the tempo of the game with their pace and individual talent.
Ahli goalkeeper Amir Abdul-Hamid was called into action in the 10th minute where he palmed away Wael Al-Qabani’s free-kick.
Three minutes later Ahmed Shedid had to clear Gamal Hamza’s header from over the goal line and Tarek Al-Sayed hit the side netting from close range shortly after.
As the pressure mounted on Ahli’s defense, their strikers, Ahmed Belal and Osama Hosni, were further stranded upfront with no support from midfield to the extent that one third of the pitch was literally empty for a noticeable period of time!
There is no doubt that Ahli’s caretaker coach, Hossam Al-Badri, had big shoes to fill in the absence of manager Manuel Jose who left his players stranded in Cairo while he enjoys his vacation in Portugal, an undeniably important factor in Ahli’s unmotivated display.
Al-Badri’s plan of taking over the operations area with three defending midfielders backfired since Hossam Ashour was busy marking the much faster and classier Shikabala while Hassan Mostafa was torn apart between his offensive and defensive roles and Anis Boujelbene acting like a ghost on the pitch.
Zamalek grabbed a much deserved lead in the 42 minute after Shikabala pounced on a miss-pass from defender Ahmed Al-Sayed, sidestepped Mohamed Sedik and Wael Gomaa and sent a deft low-cross that was met by Abdul-Hamid at the far post.
The inexperienced Al-Badri had the chance to rectify things during the interval by bringing in fresh blood in midfield to form some balance and apply pressure on Zamalek’s laid back defense.
However, he made no changes and as a result, nothing changed and Zamalek’s attacks intensified.
Ahli keeper Abdul-Hamid kept his team in the game by denying a penalty kick from Al-Qabani, but his luck ran out in the 62nd minute, thanks to some more poor defending from Al-Sayed and co.
Zamalek’s Mohamed Aboul-Ella sprinted down the right flank, muscled his way past Al-Sayed and sent an inch-perfect cross to the unmarked Hamza who had no problem heading home in the 62nd minute just when Al-Badri was ready to make two substitutions.
To everyone’s surprise, perhaps even Al-Badri, the introduction of the energetic Ahmed Sedik, the only viable backup for the absent Mohamed Abou-Treika and Mohamed Barakat, and Ahmed Galal for Boujelbene and Belal turned things around.
Ahli eventually took control of the game while Zamalek fell back and operated on the counter attacks.
Ahli’s attacks almost paid off but Sedik and Galal’s late efforts were in vain.
Zamalek coach Henri Michel definitely outclassed Al-Badri and gave a formidable performance, which may or may not have been fruitful had Jose and his star players been on the pitch on Monday evening.