File photo of Zamalek winger Shikabala (Photo: Ahram)
A below-par Zamalek side were held to a goalless draw away from home at lowly Tanta, missing out on what could have been a vital win in the run-in for the CAF Confederation Cup-qualifying third spot.
Zamalek, who managed two victories against Talae El-Geish and rivals Masry in the last two weeks, were looking for their third win in a row under Portuguese manager Augusto Inacio.
The Cairo giants, however, struggled to pose threat on goal throughout – with their major chance only coming late in the second half when Ahmed Refaat was denied by the woodwork.
Despite losing two points, Zamalek are still in third spot on 47 points, four ahead of fourth-placed Masry who played two games less.
After uncharacteristically slumping to five consecutive league defeats, the Whites have virtually lost hope of a top-two finish, with a massive 13-point gap separating between them and second-placed Maqassa.
High-flying Ahly are seven points clear at the top of the table, but should restore it to 10 points should they prevail against El-Entag El-Harby on Sunday.
Newcomers Tanta seemed the more determined side in the opening stages, pressing high up the pitch in an attempt to win the ball in forward positions.
Egypt Cup holders Zamalek, on the other side, did not show intent to win the ball high up, with lone striker Bassem Morsi often pressing alone without the support of the rest of his temmates.
Unlike previous games, manager Inacio preferred to deploy a 4-3-3 format, but Zamalek’s forward trio failed to threaten so often, with Morsi isolated and Shikabala looking out-of-sorts.
And a couple of nervous moments at Zamalek’s backline could have seen striker Dennis Tetteh pounce on before striking wide of the post.
The second-half did not bring an entirely different affair for Zamalek, who still struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.
Inacio had earlier intervened by introducing Mostafa Fathi instead of lone striker Morsi, but with the young winger playing on the left, he struggled to drift inside and hit his trademark strikes towards goal.
Things did not get even better with the introduction of Mohamed Ibrahim down the left, with Zamalek looking clearly lacking a proper targetman with Ahmed Refaat in the center-forward position.
The latter, however, could have found the net with just nine minutes remaining before seeing his strike from inside the area hit the woodwork, with Fathi then failing on the rebound.
Despite striker Ahmed Gaafar coming on just few minutes earlier, with now Refaat moving towards the flank – Zamalek did not seem to get any better as they shared spoils with their unfacied opponents.
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