Ahly players try to reach Assiouti Sport's goal: (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Ahly continued their poor start to the season against league rookie Assiouty Sport on Monday, drawing 0-0 and falling to 13th place in the table with only five points after four games.
With a goal disallowed, a penalty turned down and a red card for their talisman Walid Soliman, the defending champions lived through a nightmare afternoon and will be able to blame referee Sherif Rashwan for a lot of it.
Coach Juan Carlos Garrido made a few changes to his line-up, putting in Ahmed Khairi for suspended Hossam Ashour, keeper Ahmed Adel for injured Sherif Ekramy and left-back Hussein El-Sayed for Sabri Rahil in his first official debut.
The action started as early as the fourth minute, when Amr Gamal was sent clear into the box by a neat through ball from Ahmed Abdel-Zaher, but his curling shot missed the goal.
The hosts responded right after as Mohamed Shedid fired from the edge of the area, but he was denied by keeper Ahmed Adel and the rebound was blasted wide by Karim Manch.
At the half hour mark, energetic midfielder Mahmoud Trezeguet came close to scoring when he brilliantly intercepted and skipped past the last defender to ghost in the area, but his close range shot hit the side netting.
With time passing, the Red Devils tightened their grip and forced their rivals to pull back, but failed to carve any spaces in the defence.
Ahly tried to raise their game as Garrido brought in Emad Meteb and Moussa Yedan for injured Amr Gamal and Hossam Ghali, who is way past his prime.
The tension rose when Soliman was given his marching orders on a second booking at the hour mark.
With only 10 men on the pitch, Ahly surprisingly seemed in a more dominant position to break the deadlock.
In the 64th minute Yedan scored a goal on a fine low cross from Khairi but the referee ruled it out for offside.
The referee again took centre stage as he refused to whistle a penalty after an Assiouty Sport defender blocked a cross with his hand amid massive protests from Ahly players.
While the hosts seemed satisfied with the point, Garrido did everything to snatch the full points – and Abdel-Zaher could have scored a killer deep in injury time when he was set up in the area – but his lob of the keeper went over the bar.
Ahly will also have to worry about their star striker Gamal, who might be out with a lengthy knee injury. He is set to undergo further scans to determine how bad the injury is.
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