Zamalek's Mostafa Fathi (L) and Ismaily's Ahmed Samir (R) fight for the ball during Wednesday's Egyptian Premier League clash (Ahram)
Mido tasted his first loss in charge of Zamalek when his former club Ismaily inflicted a 1-0 defeat on the Egyptian Premier League holders on Wednesday, giving them a reality check ahead of next week's Cairo derby against arch rivals Ahly.
Zamalek won four games in a row after Mido took over for a second spell early in January but he was still criticized for a series of uninspiring displays despite the abundance of attacking talents at his disposal.
The criticism appeared justified when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Smouha last month before Wednesday's loss at Ismaily further increased pressure on the former Tottenham Hotspur, Marseille and Ajax Amsterdam striker, given the impulsive nature of the club's outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour.
Mido is Zamalek's third coach this term, with Portuguese Jesualdo Ferreira, who led the team to the domestic double last season, leaving in an acrimonious manner last November and his successor Marcos Paqueta of Brazil being shown the door at the beginning of the year.
Ismaily started the season under Mido but he resigned after a few games after falling out with the club's skipper Hosni Abd-Rabou. Tunisian coach Nasreddine Nabi then took over but his tenure lasted six matches, during which they only won once.
Khaled El-Qammash was appointed as Nabi's successor and Ismaily excelled in their first match under his guidance, getting the better of Zamalek to end their five-match winless streak.
Defender Islam Gamal, who is on loan from Zamalek, looked to have punished his club for agreeing to offload him in the January transfer window, making a goal-line clearance before scoring at the other end on the stroke of halftime in what proved to be the winner.
Zamalek, who desperately chased the equalizer but hardly created goal-scoring chances, finished with ten men after Burkinabe defender Mohamed Koffi was dismissed for a second bookable offence with seven minutes remaining.
The White Knights remain second in the table with 30 points, one behind Ahly who can go four points clear at the top if they beat ENPPI later in the day. Both sides clash in the Cairo derby next Tuesday.
Out of the blue
Ismaily had the better of the early exchanges and were unlucky not to go ahead after 18 minutes when full-back Shawki El-Said made a darting run down the right and whipped in a cross for striker Marwan Mohsen, who cut ahead of his marker to rattle the crossbar with a powerful close-range shot.
Zamalek gave a debut to new recruit Emmanuel Mayuka but the Zambian striker made a minimal impact and was replaced with Bassem Morsi in the second half.
The visitors had the first real opportunity on 38 minutes when playmaker Ayman Hefni gathered a short corner inside the area, held off his challenger and sent a shot just over the bar.
Gamal then stole the show when he cleared a goal-bound shot before appearing out of the blue at the other end of the pitch, sliding at the far post to volley home a free-kick from Ahmed Samir Farag from a tight angle.
Having started the match with the away dark blue kit, Zamalek wore their famous white shirt in the second half but the change was only in their appearance, with their lethargic display continuing after the restart.
Mido, who was in the stands due to a one-game touchline ban, appeared to give instructions to football director Hazem Emam via phone but the team remained a shadow of the side which won the league last season for the first time since 2004.
However, promising winger Mostafa Fathi, who rescued Zamalek several times off the bench this season, could have restored parity on 49 minutes when a deflected cross found him unmarked but his effort was thwarted by keeper Mohamed Awad, who bravely threw himself at Fathi's feet.
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