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Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Forgotten man Cisse gives Zamalek last-gasp win over Sfaxien in Confed Cup

Hatem Maher , Saturday 27 Jun 2015
Zamalek
Abdoulaye Cisse of Egypt's Zamalek celebrates after scoring a goal against Tunisia's CS Sfaxien during their CAF Confederation Cup soccer match at Petro Sport stadium in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: Reuters)
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Forgotten striker Abdoulaye Cisse scored his first goal in more than nine months to help Zamalek make a winning start to their African Confederation Cup group stage campaign following a late 1-0 home win over Tunisia's Sfaxien on Saturday.

With the final whistle quickly approaching, the Burkinabe, who replaced full-back Hamada Tolba as Zamalek embraced an all-out attack in the latter stages, bundled home following a low cross from versatile midfielder Omar Gaber to find an empty net and spark wild celebrations among the players and technical staff members.

It was Zamalek's first opening group-stage win in any African competition in 13 years as they moved level on three points with South Africa's Orlando Pirates, who beat Congo's AC Leopards 1-0 earlier in the day in the other Group B clash.

Cisse has only played six matches this season and his last goal was in September last year when Zamalek hammered Talae El-Geish 6-1 in their opening Egyptian Premier League game.

Widespread reports suggested that he would be offloaded in the summer but he could give the Zamalek board food for thought should he grasp his chance with both hands in his second spell at the White Knights.

Steadfast defence

Zamalek dominated possession in a cagey first half but could not find way through a steadfast Sfaxien defence marshaled by Zied Derbeli and Yassine Meriah, with some rough tackles from the visitors disrupting their build-up play.

Sfaxien, who defended in numbers, could only muster a couple of tame shots that were easily dealt with by goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawy while Zamalek had the first sight of goal three minutes before the break when promising attacking midfielder Mostafa Fathi sent a low shot just wide from the edge of the area.

An inspired second-half display by playmaker Ayman Hefni breathed some life into a sluggish frontline and Zamalek were unlucky not to break the deadlock on several occasions, with the absence of top marksman Bassem Morsi through suspension leaving them without a much-needed cutting edge.

Midfielder Ahmed Tafwik rose to an inch-perfect cross from left-back Ahmed Tolba but headed just wide on 49 minutes while another Fathi header missed an open net after some brilliant work by Hefni down the left six minutes past the hour mark.

With lone striker Khaled Qamar looking out of sorts, Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira made a bold move by introducing three frontmen in Cisse, youngster Youssef Obama and the burly Ahmed Ali.

Ali was guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance when he robbed a Sfaxien defender and broke clear but hastily attempted to curl the ball beyond the keeper instead of making further inroads into the area, allowing Rami Jeridi to palm away his effort.

Zamalek's pressure finally paid off on 90 minutes following a superb move that saw Hefni collect a low corner, cut inside while being closely marked by two defenders before back-heeling the ball to Gaber, whose low cross from the right evaded Jeridi and found Cisse who was unmarked despite being surrounded by several defenders, tapping in easily to hand his side a precious win.

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