Egypt's Zamalek reach Confed Cup final after late drama in Sousse
Hatem Maher , Sunday 5 May 2019


Egypt's Zamalek qualified for the African Confederation Cup final for the first time after holding Etoile Sahel to a 0-0 draw in a dramatic affair in Sousse that saw the visitors play with a striker as a goalkeeper in a frantic finale.

Zamalek's goalkeeper Mahmoud Gennesh, who was earlier booked for what the referee deemed his time-wasting antics after he fell on the ground for several minutes, received his marching orders in stoppage time after handling the ball just outside the area as he chased it on the left.

With the three substitutions being already made, lone striker Omar El-Said stood between the sticks but he was not tested as Zamalek restricted Etoile to some tame efforts deep in stoppage time to go through with a 1-0 aggregate win.

Zamalek, who will meet Morocco's RS Berkane in a two-legged final later this month, avenged their elimination from the same stage at the hands of Etoile in 2015 when they suffered a 5-4 aggregate loss.

The White Knights won the elite Champions League five times but have never won Africa's secondary club competition.

Vibrant atmosphere

Zamalek successfully contained Etoile's attack in the first half, making light of the vibrant atmosphere in Sousse to keep the hosts at bay.

Etoile were also unlucky to make an unscripted substitution, with Malek Baayou, himself a replacement for Amine Ben Amor who picked up a serious knee injury in the first leg, being replaced midway through the first half as he appeared dizzy.

Zamalek defended doggedly but had a chance of their own to deal a fatal blow to Etoile's hopes when winger Mahmoud Kahraba found deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim unmarked with a square pass.

However, Ibrahim mis-hit his effort with the goal at his mercy, to the relief of the Tunisians.

Etoile piled on pressure in the early stages of the second half, coming the closest on 50 minutes when a near-post header from Iheb Msakni narrowly missed the target.

Msakni also failed to connect with a long ball behind the defence in the 71st in one of the rare openings for Etoile.

Zamalek's towering right-back Hamdi Nagguez, an ex-Etoile player who appeared to be targeted by the home fans throughout the match, also cleared a goal-bound effort in the latter stages before the late drama unfolded.

Gennesh received a second booking but Etoile could not make the most of the golden chance they got as Zamalek players celebrated wildly after the final whistle.

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