Zamalek's goalkeeper Mahmoud Gennesh (R) celebrates his team's victory as Ahly's Hossam Ghaly (L) reacts during the Egyptian Super Cup football match between on February 10, 2017, at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi (AFP)
Mahmoud Gennesh repaid the faith of Zamalek coach Mohamed Helmi to prove the difference in a cautious Egyptian Super Cup clash against arch rivals Ahly, gifting his side their third title with two superb saves in the shootout.
Reports suggested Gennesh was heading for the exit door when he declined to take part in training for around two weeks last December, expressing his anger that he was demoted to the bench.
Ahmed El-Shennawy, an Egyptian international, remains Zamalek's first-choice custodian but Gennesh felt he should have been given a bigger role such as the one he had under former coach Moemen Soliman, who used to rotate his two keepers.
El-Shennawi picked up an injury in Egypt's opening 0-0 draw with Mali in the African Cup of Nations last month but he was declared fit to feature in the Super Cup.
However, Helmi said he had already made up his mind that Gennesh would be given the nod, regardless of whether El-Shennawi was fit.
Untested in a bore 0-0 draw, Gennesh dived to his right to block two spot kicks from Moemen Zakareya and Saleh Gomaa as Zamalek won 3-1 on penalties.
"I told Gennesh that he would play, even before El-Shennawi got injured with Egypt," coach Helmi, who secured his first win over Ahly after Zamalek slumped to a 2-0 league defeat by their bitter foes in late December, told the post-match news conference.
"I'm proud to have two goalkeepers of his caliber, and I wanted to give them big roles but Gennesh's lengthy injury layoff delayed his return to the team."
Gennesh also breathed a sigh of relief that his problems with Zamalek were over.
""The past period was so difficult but I eventually managed to get through it unscathed," he said right after the game.
Helmi also reacted angrily to reports indicating that outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour interferes in team selection.
"These talks are nonsense. Some said president Mansour ordered me to play with two strikers, this never happens," he added.
Friday's victory is Zamalek's first over Ahly in five Egyptian Super Cup meetings.
Ahly the record winners with nine titles to Zamalek's three.
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