Ahly, Zamalek splash the cash ahead of new league season

Omar Zaazou , Friday 2 Sep 2016

Egyptian league champions Ahly and Egypt Cup holders Zamalek have spent big in the close season, but adopted different approaches in the transfer market

Ahmed Fathi of Al Ahly and Basem Mursi of El Zamalek in action.  (Reuters)
Ahmed Fathi of Al Ahly and Basem Mursi of El Zamalek in action. (Reuters)

A busy summer for big guns Ahly and Zamalek has seen them break the bank in this transfer window, with the Whites in particular securing the services of 13 new arrivals after losing the league to their arch-rivals last season.  

Egypt Cup holders Zamalek, who are currently vying for the Champions League title, having reached the semis, demonstrated their intent to mount a serious title challenge next season with a host of signings that included all positions from attack to defence.

League champions Ahly, meanwhile, showed similar determination but focused on quality rather than quantity, shoring up their roster in certain vulnerable positions.

Ahly spend big on ex-Sfaxien duo

With first-choice keeper Sherif Ekramy lambasted for some extremely poor performances, including a howler that gifted Ivory Coast's ASEC a 2-1 Champions League victory in Alexandria, Ahly did not waste time in signing a new keeper in Mohamed El-Shennawi from Petrojet.

But it was another three signings that have seen Ahly splash the cash, following the record $8 million sale of Gabon striker Malick Evouna and winger Ramadan Sobhi to Premier League side Stoke City for $6 million.  

Tunisia left-back Ali Maaloul arrived from Sfaxien for a fee of 700,000 Euros, as Ahly looked to land a high-profile full-back with Sabri Rahil not totally convincing of late.   

Another foreigner to join was highly-rated U-23 Nigeria forward Junior Ajaye, who also happened to join from Tunisia's Sfaxien, costing Ahly a fee of $2 million.

It was not just foreign acquisitions that saw Ahly spend big; international striker Marwan Mohsen was also brought in from Ismaily for EGP 10 million in an attempt to fill the void left by Evouna.   

Apart from these major signings, the Reds also managed to acquire the services of attacking midfielder Mido Gaber, who was the subject of a contracted transfer saga, from Maqassa and holding midfielder Akram Tawfik from Enppi.

Zamalek secure 13 signings

Zamalek, on the other hand, adopted a different strategy from their perennial rivals in the transfer market, looking to bolster all areas of the pitch with the notable exception of the goalkeeping position – occupied by Egypt guardian Ahmed El-Shennawi.

Notably, the defence seemed to have received the major attention from the Whites, signing seven defenders covering all full-back and centre-half roles.
The most prominent names were Shawki El-Said from Ismaily, ex-Enppi full-back duo Mohamed Nassef and Osama Ibrahim and left-back Ali Fathi, signed from Arab Contractors, who has been already registered in Zamalek's African roster.

But Zamalek's major hit of the window could arguably be Wadi Degla forward Stanley Ohawuchi, who joined on a season-long loan with an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season in return for $900,000.

Given the Nigerian's goal-scoring potential – he scored 11 league goals with Degla last season -- Zamalek were quick to add his name to the team's Champions League roster.     

Towering striker Ahmed Gaafar also returned from Petrojet to provide depth in attack, which already comprises Egypt marksman Bassem Morsi and Zambian Emmanuel Mayuka.

Smouha another giant on the transfer market

After booking a place in the CAF Confederation Cup following their third-placed league finish, Smouha were another team to make what seems to be a squad reshuffle having signed 11 players in the close season.

The most notable were keeper Mohamed Abo-Gabal and striker Ahmed Hassan Mekki from Zamalek, alongside ex-Ahly forward Ahmed Raouf who arrived from Masry.

But Egyptian fans will be particularly interested to watch Burkinabe duo, left-back Patrick Malo and forward Banou Diawara, who both moved from Algeria's JS Kabylie, as Smouha seem to be growing into major force in the domestic league.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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