Smouha stun league winners Ahly to reach Egypt Cup final for first time

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 15 Jul 2014

Alexandria-based club Smouha defeat Egyptian Premier League winners Ahly 2-1 in Cairo to reach the Egypt Cup final, where they will meet Zamalek on Saturday

Smouha v Ahly
Smouha and Ahly played out a goalless draw in the Egyptian Premier League title decider last week (Photo: Ahram)

Unfancied Smouha edged closer to winning their first ever trophy after avenging their narrow Egyptian Premier League loss in style, outplaying Ahly to secure a deserved 2-1 win in Cairo and reach the Egypt Cup final on Tuesday.

Goal difference propelled Ahly to an eighth consecutive league triumph after a 0-0 draw with Smouha last week but the Alexandria-based club went some way to make amends, with a brace from Basel-target Ahmed Hammoudi giving them a stunning win at an empty Cairo Stadium.

The 23-year-old, who is likely to seal a summer move to Swiss champions Basel, scored twice in the first half to deny Ahly the chance to complete a domestic double and win their first cup title since 2007.

Emad Meteb pulled one back from the spot with ten minutes remaining but it was too little, too late as Smouha held on for a remarkable win.

They set up a meeting with Ahly's arch-rivals and title holders Zamalek on Sunday after the White Knights defeated Wadi Degla on penalties in the other semi-final on Monday.

Zamalek coach Mido said he hoped Ahly would prevail so that his side would have a chance to end their Cairo derby jinx but Smouha are likely to pose a stern test after claiming the scalp of Egypt's most successful side, who won the cup a record 35 times.

Ahly's new Spanish coach Juan Carlos Garrido failed in his first test after replacing interim manager Fathi Mabrouk, under whom the experimental side which missed a host of key players beat the odds to retain their league crown.

Shaky backline

Smouha's skilful forwards toyed with Ahly's naïve defenders in the first half, slicing open the shaky backline far too easily with some flowing moves, especially down the flanks where full-backs Ahmed Manga and Sabri Rahil were repeatedly exposed.

Hammoudi was guilty of squandering an easy opportunity after 12 minutes when his nonchalant back-heeled effort after he broke clear missed the target but he made amends on 25 minutes, blasting a pull-back from Hesham Fathallah into the roof of the net to cap a trademark silky move.

Karim Bambo, a promising winger who was one of several youngsters in Ahly's starting line-up, missed two clear-cut chances after being released twice by defence-splitting passes from 17-year-old playmaker Ramadan Sobhi, with ex-Ahly keeper Amir Abdel-Hamid thwarting him on both occasions.

Ahly were punished for those misses as the overlapping Hammoudi doubled Smouha's lead on 34 minutes, ghosting behind two static defenders to collect a deft pass from Ibrahim Abdel-Khalek and fire home from a tight angle.

Smouha were unlucky not to extend the gap in a second half that saw them outplay Ahly via some fast-paced counter attacks.

Striker Hani El-Egeizi wasted their best chance when he cut inside off-form defender Saad Samir in the area and sent a curling effort just wide on the hour mark.

Garrido introduced striker Emad Meteb, whose header gave Ahly a 1-0 quarter-final victory over lowly Ragaa, and winger Walid Soliman, who made his long-awaited return following a lengthy absence through a niggling injury, to beef up his attack.

Both made an impact, with Soliman winning a penalty 10 minutes from time when he fell under a minimal challenge from Ayman Ashraf and Meteb converting the ensuing spot-kick.

However, Smouha held on to claim a deserved place in the final of Egypt's oldest football competition 

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