A beleaguered Zamalek side continued their poor displays, this time succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Lebanese Al-Ahd to almost wave the Arab Championship goodbye on Wednesday.
Zamalek entered the game on the back of a row between club chairman Mortada Mansour and first-team manager Augusto Inacio, who castigated the former in the pre-match press conference a day before the game.
And with the outspoken Mansour quick to hit back at the Portuguese manager, threatening to complain him to FIFA, Zamalek were tasked with putting their problems behind their backs and claim their first win in the competition.
A late goal from Ahmad Zreik, however, meant the Whites failed to secure a win in three games, after losing to arch rivals Ahly 2-0 in the final league match before opening their Arab Championship campaign with a 2-2 draw with Morocco’s FUS Rabat.
Zamalek midfielder Mahmoud Abdel-Aati was sent off barely a minute after the goal following what was perceived by the referee a rash challenge on an opponent.
With FUS crushing Saudi side Nassr 4-0 earlier in the day, the Moroccans moved top of Group B level on four points with Al-Ahed, as the Cairo giants are now third level on a single point with Al-Nassr.
It remains to be seen what Inacio’s future would be, with Zamalek still having the Egypt Cup to compete for after bowing out of the CAF Champions League from the group stage.
Late goal down Zamalek
Despite playing at Alexandria Stadium against their Lebanese opponents, Zamalek failed to threaten so often inside the first half, apart from a strike from young winger Mostafa Mohamed that hit the side-netting.
The Cairo side were not really better after the break, clearly lacking the presence of a playmaker, with Shikabala, Hossam Salama and Ibrahim Abdel-Khaleq – who came in for winger Mohamed – constituting the front line.
And with Zamalek barely posing threat, the Lebanese side started to grow into the game, with young keeper Omar Salah forced into a couple of excellent saves.
The goal arrived just five minutes from time, with a cross from the left finding an unmarked Zreik inside the area who easily slotted past keeper Salah.
Barely a minute after the concession, midfielder Abdel-Aati received his marching orders for a rash foul on an opponent, as Zamalek were forced to continue with 10 men and eventually lose the game.
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