Preview: Ahly, Zamalek clash for 1st of three possible titles

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Jul 2022

Ahly and Zamalek clash in the final of a delayed Egypt Cup edition on Thursday as they tussle for three possible titles this year, with each suffering problems of their own.

Ahly v Zamalek
Ahly and Zamalek played out a 2-2 draw the last time they met in an Egyptian Premier League clash last month (Ahram)


The Cairo giants vie for a competition that was meant to be completed in the 2020-21 season.

A fixture congestion that disrupted last season means that both Ahly and Zamalek are playing simultaneous Egypt Cup editions. Both sides reached the last 16 of the ongoing 2021-22 edition.

Zamalek will be eyeing a domestic double after winning the Egyptian Premier League last season while Ahly are seeking to add an Egypt Cup triumph to the Champions League title they clinched last term.

They will then turn their attention to this season's league competition, which Zamalek lead amid fierce competition from Ahly and the big-spending Pyramids FC with nine rounds remaining.

But for now, the priority of both sides is to get a psychological advantage by winning the Cup before engaging in the league run-in.

Although Ahly are the reigning champions, Zamalek have dominated the competition in recent years, winning six out of the past eight editions -- a run that included two final victories over Ahly in 2015 and 2016.

Reeling Ahly

Ahly have been reeling since the sudden departure of highly-successful boss Pitso Mosimane last month, having dropped eight points since then under caretaker coach Sami Komsan and new Portuguese manager Ricardo Soares.

Their last stumble was particularly painful, with Ahly losing 2-0 to Pyramids on Saturday after being largely outplayed as the Emirati-owned club revived their league hopes and threw the title race wide open.

Zamalek have fared much better, winning four consecutive games since their exciting 2-2 Cairo derby draw with Ahly on 19 June.

However, their fans are still not overly optimistic, given the scarce of options at the disposal of veteran Portuguese boss Jesualdo Ferreira. The club are struggling to fill the gaps caused in part by a transfer ban that world governing body FIFA had imposed on the club last summer.

Their thin squad was further reduced recently, with long-serving midfielder Tarek Hamed, Zamalek's most consistent performer in the past five years, reportedly on the verge of joining Saudi Arabia's Ittihad after his contract expired.

Key Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki is still playing with the team but he is also likely to leave before the end of the season after his deal ran out.

Ferreira introduced some new, young faces that excelled but two of them, midfielder Seif Gaafar and winger Youssef Nabih, will miss the Egypt Cup final against Ahly due to injuries.

Ahly will also have do to without some regulars, including wingers Taher Mohamed and Hussein El-Shahat as well as right-back Mohamed Hani, who are all injured.

Thursday's match will take place at Cairo's International Stadium, the traditional venue of both sides, with the meagre attendance of 2,500 fans for each club. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak will take charge of the game.

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