Two second-half headers from Bassem Morsi and Stanley Ohawuchi and some poor goalkeeping gave Zamalek a 2-0 home win over Zimbabwe’s Caps United in their opening Group B clash of the African Champions League on Friday.
Zamalek could have paid for a slew of goal-scoring opportunities that they squandered before the break but lone striker Morsi broke the deadlock 11 minutes after the restart after Caps United goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda fumbled at his tame header.
The 30-year-old shot-stopper was at fault again as substitute Stanley Ohawuchi made sure of the three points seven minutes from time, delighting some 5,000 fans who were allowed to attend the match at Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab Stadium.
With the White Knights losing the domestic league title, most likely to Cairo rivals Ahly, a Champions League triumph for the first time since 2002 would be the perfect remedy after the team narrowly missed out on the prestigious accolade last year.
They created chances at will against a poor Caps United side, who committed many errors just in front of their own area, but new Portuguese coach Augusto Inacio remained cautious after his side went ahead, opting to introduce a third holding midfielder to contain any possible threats.
Zamalek are level on three points with Algeria’s USM Alger, who crushed Libya’s Ahli Tripoli 3-0 earlier in the day.
Four of the wasted chances came inside the first 15 minutes, with defender Ali Gabr having a header cleared off the line by Moses Muchenje following a corner and midfielder Tarek Hamed’s low shot going just wide from the edge of the area after a defensive blunder.
Winger Mostafa Fathi, who has been off-form recently, also missed the target with a close-range volley when well positioned to score and a curling effort from Ahmed Refaat went wide.
Although Zamalek eased off after an explosive start, Caps United’s too many mis-placed passes gifted them a plenty of chances to open the scoring but the hosts’ profligacy had the fans purring.
A deflected shot from Morsi on 36 minutes looped up and looked to be on its way into the net, only for Sibanda to pull off a fine save and tip it over.
It remained a one-way traffic in the second half and Caps United’s resistance was broken on 56 minutes when fan favourite Mahmoud Shikabala whipped in a diagonal cross for Morsi, whose tame bouncing header slipped out of Sibanda’s grasp and into the net.
Ironically, the only chance for the visitors fell to Sibanda, whose 30-metre free kick forced a fine save from his Zamalek counterpart Ahmed El-Shennawi who was otherwise not tested.
But Sibanda remained shaky between the sticks at the other end as Stanley got ahead of him to head home an in-swinging corner at the near post and wrap up Zamalek’s win.
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