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Zamalek fail to give new coach winning start after 0-0 draw at Ismaily

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 22 Nov 2016
Ismaily 0-0 Zamalek
Zamalek held to a 0-0 draw at Ismaily in Tuesday's Egyptian Premier League game (Ahram)
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Zamalek stumbled in their first match under new coach Mohamed Salah and were even lucky not to lose after a 0-0 draw at an Ismaily side who produced a vivid attacking display in Tuesday's Egyptian Premier League game.

The visitors had to thank goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi for pulling off some fine saves which prevented Zamalek from slumping to their first defeat of the season after Moemen Soliman, who guided them to the Egypt Cup title last season and a runners-up spot in the African Champions League, resigned from his post.

Soliman cited what he perceived as "heavy pressure" after being fiercely criticised by the fans, media and Zamalek's chairman Mortada Mansour for a number of lackluster displays, despite a run of four wins and a draw in five league games.

But things have not changed in the first game under the stewardship of Salah, who took over at Zamalek on an interim basis more than once.

Zamalek, who still have four matches in hand, are ninth in the table with 14 points from six matches, one ahead of Ismaily who played 10.

The White Knights could not end the jinx of Ismailia Stadium, where they failed to record any win in 10 years. 

Ismaily's dominance

Ismaily took the game to their opponents for most of the first half, pressuring them high up the pitch. Winger Ibrahim Hassan was their liveliest performer, marauding relentlessly around the area to unsettle Zamalek's backline.

He had a long-range shot tipped over by Zamalek keeper El-Shennawi after eight minutes and the Egyptian international guardian was on alert again to thwart a curling effort from Hassan in the 20th minute.

El-Shennawi also blocked a close-range effort from Hassan nine minutes before the break after he was fed by an inch-perfect long ball from veteran midfielder Hosni Abd-Rabou.

Zamalek then started to gain some possession, relying on the individual skills of winger Mahmoud Shikabala and playmaker Ayman Hefni to unlock Ismaily's defence, with lone striker Ahmed Gaafar being a peripheral figure.

Shikabala created the only half chance for Zamalek before the interval when his low shot from the edge of the area was parried by Ismaily keeper Mohamed Awad.

Ismaily remained in control in the second half, with Mahmoud Aboul-Magd forcing another fine save from El-Shennawi following a superb pass from Ab-Rabou on 57 minutes.

Zamalek lost midfield linchpin Mahmoud Abdel-Ati, nicknamed Dunga after the former Brazil star, to injury but they relatively improved in the latter stages following the introduction of Zambian striker Emmanuel Mayuka.

Both sides could have snatched all three points in a frantic end to the game.

Ismaily's Ghanaian midfielder Torric Jebrin sent a free header wide with the goal at his mercy after a cross from left-back Adel Gomaa while Zamalek's Nigerian forward spurned two clear-cut chances in quick succession.

Ohawuchi cut inside his marker but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by the keeper before failing to find an empty net after a header from substitute Ibrahim Salah came back off the bar in stoppage time. 

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

 
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