Zamalek claim back-to-back Egypt Cup titles for first time in 54 years

Ahram Online, Sunday 20 Jul 2014

Zamalek v Smouha
Zamalek v Smouha (Photo: Ahram)

Zamalek won their second successive Egypt Cup title when a last-gasp Hazem Emam strike handed them a hard-earned 1-0 win over 10-man Smouha, a feat they have not achieved since 1960.

The pacy winger side-footed home into an empty net with one minute remaining after making the most of a rebound to help Zamalek make up for a disappointing season in which they finished third in the Egyptian Premier League behind winners Ahly and Smouha.

It was Zamalek's first title under rookie coach Mido, whose job remains under scrutiny, and their 23rd cup triumph. The Cairo giants have recently embarked on a rebuilding process, signing a host of new players in a bid to end a 10-year league drought.

Smouha, this season's surprise package who will play in the African Champions League next term, were making their first final appearance in a major tournament but they were subdued for most of the game and were dearly affected by the second-half dismissal of midfielder Tarek Hamed.

Hamed was harshly sent-off for a second bookable offense on 70 minutes, giving Zamalek an advantage that was crucial in the dying minutes as Emam pounced on a defensive lapse to strike home and spark wild celebrations on the bench.

Zamalek, who crushed Wadi Degla 3-0 in last year's final, missed the festive atmosphere that usually follows their triumphs as the game was played behind closed doors at Cairo's army-owned Air Defence Stadium due to security concerns.

The match was preceded with an ugly incident when Smouha's team bus was stoned by suspected Zamalek fans, leading to minor injuries to two players.

No flair

A scrappy first half was devoid of any flair, with both sides playing it safe by packing their midfield to stifle the tame efforts of the other side.

Smouha's only chance was a 14th-minute free-kick that grazed the post while Zamalek came closest four minutes before the break when a shot by youngster Khaled Shika was palmed away by the keeper.

Zamalek were forced to make an unscripted substitution on the stroke of halftime when attacking midfielder Mohamed Ibrahim, who was once again disappointing, made way for Moemen Zakareya after picking up an injury.

Although the second half was also dour, with too many mis-placed passes hindering both sides, Zamalek appeared much better than in previous games in terms of defensive steadfastness.

Just when it looked as though there will be penalty shootout to determine the winner, substitute Youssef Ibrahim, nicknamed Obama after the American president,  ran onto a long ball to break clear.

His chip produced a superb one-handed save from Smouha keeper Amir Abdel-Hamid but the ball fell kindly for Emam to lash home and give Zamalek a precious win. 

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