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Ahly slam Ittihad’s ‘play-acting’ following league win

Cairo club's football director lashes out at what he calls ‘Ittihad’s play-acting’ following Thursday’s league tie

Hatem Maher, Friday 13 May 2011
Ittihad V Ahly
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Ahly bagged all three points after claiming a late 1-0 Egyptian Premier League victory over Ittihad of Alexandria on Thursday but they were still unhappy with the way the visitors’ players behaved on the pitch.

The defending champions needed an 82nd-minute penalty from defender Wael Gomaa to break down a stubborn Ittihad side and close to within one point of arch-rivals and league leaders Zamalek.

The referee added six minutes of stoppage time in the second half after the match was repeatedly stopped to help several Ittihad players, including goalkeeper El-Hani Soliman, receive treatment.

“The referee should have been aware that Ittihad players always waste time. They were play-acting tonight,” a visibly angry Sayed Abdel-Hafiz, Ahly's director of fottball, told the club’s television channel after the match.

“The game was halted every two or three minutes when Ittihad players theatrically fell on the ground, we can’t call that football.

“If the referee took action against them, they wouldn’t have continued wasting time like that.”

Abdel-Hafiz was also unhappy with the dismissal of midfielder Hossam Ghaly, who picked up two yellow cards in quick succession after coming on as a second-half substitute.

He collected the first booking for a handball before a high-footed lunge on an opponent prompted the referee to send him off four minutes from time.

“An Ittihad player committed a similar handball but he was not booked,” Abdel-Hafiz fumed.

Ahly, who are eyeing a seventh consecutive league crown, leapfrogged Ismaily into second place in the league table with 39 points, just one short of Zamalek who have not won the elite competition since 2004.

Ittihad, Alexandria’s most popular club, are in the grips of a financial crisis and lie bottom of the table with 15 points, four adrift of the safety zone.

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