Mostafa Fathi of Zamalek in action with Walid Soliman and Moamen Zakaria of Al Ahly in the stadium which is empty due to security reasons. The Arabic words read, "Always Egypt first" (Reuters)
Egyptian league champions Ahly ensured they ended their campaign unbeaten after outclassing arch rivals Zamalek 2-0 in the final game of the season at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Monday.
Ahram Online has collected reactions from players and technical staff members following the Cairo derby.
"The Zamalek team is under pressure due to instability, because their coach is under pressure and threatened with being sacked. Zamalek needs to keep a coach for at least a full season," Ahly midfielder Hossam Ashour said, praising Zamalek players Mahmoud 'Shikabala' Abdel-Razik, Marouf Youssif, Ali Gabr and Omar Salah.
"Why do you blame me for the loss? I didn't make the squad or exclude Mostafa Fathi and Bassem Morsi from the starting eleven. Why me?" wondered Zamalek Chairman Mortada Mansour. "I boosted the team with all that was needed. I didn't interfere. When I used to interfere, we won league and Cup," he said.
"Amr Sulaya was the best player in Ahly and Stanley Ohawuchi was the best in Zamalek. He was really active," Ahly's veteran striker Emad Meteb said from the bench. "Zamalek's young keeper Omar Salah appeared confident, but we must not rush in evaluating him, but give him the opportunity to prove his worth."
"Zamalek will remain big. I didn't feel lacking in confidence or afraid of playing my first league game. I don't fear anything and the result was God's will," said young goalkeeper Omar Salah, who impressed with a surprising performance in his first Cairo derby and second ever official game with the seniors.
"Ahly has gained a lot under Hossam El-Badry's guidance. The coach made the team very firmly united, giving enough opportunity to as many players as he could during the season," said Ahly right-winger Ahmed Fathi. He also revealed that he didn't ask for a rest during the game, but it was the coaches' decision.
"Left-winger Ali Maloul has been starring with Ahly recently because he gained in confidence. He was afraid of the crowd's evaluation when he started with the team. But as he is facing tough competition with other players in his position – Sabri Rahil and Hussein El-Sayed – he did his best and proved his abilities," said Ahly's assistant coach Sayed Moawad.
"My recent performance was a message to those who accused me of not doing my best. I scored six goals and assisted in three when I had enough luck," Ahly midfielder Saleh Gomaa said.
"I am glad to come to Egypt and referee such a big game. I enjoyed the performances of many Ahly and Zamalek players, and I was astonished by the enthusiasm of everyone," said Scottish referee William Collum.
"Winning the league trophy is the fruit of a full season of working hard, and I hope we will do the same in the Cup, the Arab Championship and the CAF Champions League," said Ahly left-winger Momen Zakaria.
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