Zamalek lose to ENPPI in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday, 25 December (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Zamalek's 13-match unbeaten streak came to an end when they slumped to a 2-0 defeat by ENPPI in a top-of-the-table Egyptian Premier League clash but they were fuming after some refereeing mistakes proved costly in Thursday's clash.
The Cairo giants had two first-half goals disallowed in controversial fashion and fiery-tempered chairman Mortada Mansour felt his team were hard done by.
"Mahmoud Ashour was a very bad referee and ENPPI officials, who were sitting next to me, agreed with that," the outspoken lawyer said in a television interview following the match.
"He disallowed two goals and awarded ENPPI a soft penalty. He should be questioned over his performance tonight."
Television cameras also caught Zamalek's Portuguese coach Jaime Pacheco shouting at Ashour after the final whistle, saying "two goals, two goals!" as they walked towards the tunnel.
In-form striker Bassem Morsi notched home in the first minute after keeper Aly Lotfy spilled Mohamed Shaaban's cross into the path but he was adjudged to have fouled the ENPPI shot-stopper.
On the stroke of halftime, Morsi had another goal disallowed after teammate Moemen Zakareya appeared to foul his challenger in the build-up.
ENPPI doubled their advantage on 71 minutes when Mohamed Nassef converted a spot kick awarded after Zamalek's full-back Ahmed Samir, who was also to blame for the opening goal, felled forward Mahmoud Kaoud, a decision which also drew protests from Zamalek players and technical staff.
Nine minutes of stoppage time and a penalty Zamalek wasted in the dying minutes, which was also debatable, were no useful as ENPPI moved top with 33 points, two ahead of the White Knights who are chasing their first league title since 2004.
According to local media, Pacheco, who took over at the club following their stuttering league start under Hossam Hassan, skipped Friday's training session for no apparent reason.
Reports suggested he was angry after Mansour publicly criticized him following the loss against ENPPI.
"We have to keep moving forward without looking back," Zamalek's Burkinabe defender Mohamed Koffi, who is one of the team's best performers this season, said on his Facebook page.
"Now it's time that we really need fan support to push the team toward winning our next game and lead back the competition."
Zamalek next face promoted Damanhour on Monday.
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