Success-starved Zamalek failed to end a three-year title drought after throwing away their lead to slump to a 2-1 loss to ENPPI in the Egypt Cup final at Cairo Stadium on Tuesday.
Zamalek, who last tasted success in 2008 when they lifted the same trophy at the expense of ENPPI, took the lead early in the second half through a header from in-form striker Amr Zaki.
However, they were shell-shocked after ENPPI scored two goals to overturn the result and cause a huge upset, leaving some Zamalek players in tears after they failed to claim what looked like a routine victory.
Midfielder Adel Mostafa brought ENPPI level with a follow-up effort after his initial penalty was denied by the post before striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher finished off a neatly-worked counter attack ten minutes from time to give new coach Mokhtar Mokhtar a winning start.
ENPPI, who also eliminated Cairo giants Ahly en route to their cup triumph, won the same competition in 2005 after overcoming Ittihad of Alexandria.
Zamalek’s new coach Hassan Shehata, a club icon who took over after leaving the Egyptian national team, will be hoping to make amends when the Egyptian Premier League begins on Friday.
Roared on by the enthusiastic home crowd, who packed the 74,100-seat Cairo Stadium, Zamalek took control of the first half but could not break the deadlock despite creating some clear-cut chances.
Veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan thought he had put Zamalek ahead after 14 minutes but his goal was ruled out for offside.
ENPPI keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal failed to handle a cross, allowing Hassan to gather the loose ball and slot home but the ball hit the body of teammate Ahmed Gaafar, who was in an offside position, before going into an empty net.
The towering Gaafar was guilty of spurning a golden opportunity six minutes later when Abou-Gabal parried a powerful shot from Shikabala into his path but his header missed the target with the goal gaping.
Zamalek maintained their domination over an out-of-sorts ENPPI side, trying their luck from distance on several occasions but the likes of Hassan and right-back Hazem Emam saw their efforts go wide.
Central defender Mahmoud Fathallah could have scored on the stroke of halftime but his far-post header went over the crossbar following a deep free kick from Shikabala.
ENPPI, who failed to muster a single shot on goal, were forced to make a substitution in the first half after defender Amr Fahim, an ex-Zamalek man, picked up an injury. He was replaced with natural central midfielder Hussein Ali.
The second half was a frantic affair, with Zaki giving Zamalek the lead two minutes after the restart when he beat his challenger to a cross from Emam at the near post to send a superbly-executed header into the far bottom corner of the net.
ENPPI were awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute when Fathallah handled the ball in the area after lively frontman Ahmed Raouf got the better of him with an eye-catching feint.
Central midfielder Mostafa saw his initial spot-kick strike the hands of keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed and the post but he made no mistake on the rebound to silence the crowd.
Although Zamalek enjoyed better possession, ENPPI continued to expose the huge gaps in midfield to launch dangerous counter attacks that eventually propelled them to a famous victory.
They scored the winner in the 80th minute when Raouf squared the ball for Abdel-Zaher, who outpaced Zamalek’s right-back Omar Gaber to fire a low shot that struck Abdel-Wahed’s legs and looped into the net following a flowing move.
Shehata introduced striker Hussein Hamdy and attacking midfielder Alaa Ali in a bid to equalize in the dying minutes but they could not make a notable impact.
Hamdy wasted a golden opportunity to score when he latched onto a through pass from Zaki but his shot hit the side netting.