Preview: Cairo derby display gives Zamalek hope for league push

Ahram Online , Tuesday 21 Jun 2022

Zamalek were considered underdogs in Sunday's Cairo derby against Ahly, but a superb second-half display and an eventual 2-2 draw gave them hope that they can maintain their Egyptian Premier League push.

Cairo derby
Achraf Bencharki (C) scored Zamalek s equaliser in Sunday s 2-2 Cairo derby draw with Ahly (Ahram)

The White Knights trailed 1-0 at the break after being outplayed by Ahly, but the second-half introduction of veteran winger Mahmoud Shikabala made all the difference.

He set up Achraf Bencharki for an equaliser and scored himself as Zamalek looked close to snatching what seemed an unlikely win, given the absence of a host of regulars due to injuries and suspensions.

Although Ahly substitute Salah Mohsen secured a share of spoils with 10 minutes remaining, Zamalek can still take heart from a brave second-half performance when they meet seventh-placed NBE Club on Wednesday.

"The Cairo derby is a real start for Zamalek. It will give as a push for the remaining games and until we grasp the league trophy," Shikabala said in a video published on Zamalek's official website.

"I spoke with the players before the derby and asked them to show their real spirit and live up to the expectations of our fans."

Zamalek can ill-afford to drop more points as they seek to win the title for a second straight season.

Although they lie top with 45 points, third-placed Ahly can overtake them with a five-point lead if they win their three games in hand.

NBE usually prove a tough nut to crack. Zamalek needed a 70th-minute penalty from winger Ahmed Zizo to draw 1-1 against them in the reverse league fixture in November last year.

Zamalek are still suffering from the absence of some key players, including their entire backline.

Their two right backs, Hamza Mathlouthi and Hazem Emam, and their two left-backs, Mohamed Abdel-Shafi and Ahmed Fattouh, are all out through injuries. Central defensive pair Mahmoud Alaa and Mohamed Abdel-Ghani are also missing, as is midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed.

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