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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Preview: Zamalek hope new signings would help end Ahly jinx

Ahly and Zamalek meet on Sunday in the Egyptian Super Cup, the annual curtain-raiser to the domestic season

Hatem Maher, Saturday 13 Sep 2014
Ahly v Zamalek
Ahly, Zamalek meet in the Egyptian Super Cup at Cairo Stadium on Sunday (Photo: Ahram)
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Zamalek hope the host of signings they had made in the close season will spur them to a rare win over arch-rivals Ahly as both sides clash in the Egyptian Super Cup on Sunday.

The White Knights have been living in the shadows of their illustrious neighbours for a decade, with Ahly winning eight consecutive Premier League titles and maintaining an upper hand in their duels with Zamalek.

Zamalek have not defeated Ahly since 2007, with the latter winning nine games and drawing eight times in all competitions.

Their last meeting was at a crucial stage of last season when Ahly claimed a narrow 1-0 victory in the final four-team mini-league phase, courtesy of an own goal from Ahmed Tawfik, to go on and wrap up an eighth straight title.

Zamalek avoided ending the season empty-handed after winning the Egypt Cup for the second successive season but that was considered hardly enough for the success-hungry fans, who are hoping the spending frenzy orchestrated by controversial chairman Mortada Mansour will pay dividends.

They signed more than a dozen players to bolster their squad in the close season, nine of which are included in the roster for the Ahly clash, which will take place at Cairo Stadium behind closed doors due to lingering security concerns.

"Ahly are afraid of us because of the signings we had made," outspoken lawyer Mansour, who sacked coach Mido and brought in Egypt's all-time top scorer Hossam Hassan as a replacement, said in a television interview.

"If that Super Cup game is repeated seven times, we will win all of them."

Hossam Hassan, a former Ahly and Zamalek star who returned to the White Knights to lead them for a second stint, named strikers Khaled Kamar and Abdoulaye Cisse in a 22-man squad for the game.

Goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawy, defenders Aly Gabr and Ahmed Doweidar, midfielders Mohamed Koffi and Maarouf Yussuf and playmaker Ayman Hefni are also among the new faces in Zamalek's roster.

The team will have to do without Egypt winger Hazem Emam, newly-arrived striker Bassem Morsi and midfielder Tarek Hamed due to suspension.

Ahly have also strengthened their squad with nine new signings, having struggled to make up for the retirement of talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika and rock-solid defender Wael Gomaa last term.

Ethiopian striker Saladin Said could make his Ahly debut against Zamalek but fellow new signing Mohamed Farouk, who played with the team in the African Confederation Cup, was left out of the squad, as was Burkinabe Moussa Yedan. 

Chairman Mahmoud Taher has urged the players to claim a win that will boost their morale ahead of their clash against Cameroon's Coton Sport in the Confederation Cup semi-final, the club said on their official website.

Ahly, the record seven-time winners, have prevailed in two Egyptian Super Cup meetings with Cairo foes Zamalek.

The Red Devils beat Zamalek on penalties following a 0-0 draw in 2003 before claiming a 2-0 victory in 2008.

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

 

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