Preview: Zamalek to face Smouha in Egypt Cup final amid refereeing dispute

Ahram Online , Monday 14 May 2018

Zamalek
(Photo: Ahram)

Zamalek and Smouha will face off in a heated Egypt Cup final on Tuesday, after both sides were involved in a war of worlds ahead of the game.

Both teams expressed their displeasure over the identity of the match's referee, with Smouha, eyeing their first-ever title, asking the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) earlier this week to appoint a foreign referee for the final.

The Alexandria-based club's president Farag Amer said that his side had reached an initial agreement with the EFA concerning the appointment of a foreign referee, but the EFA announced later that the final would be managed by an Egyptian referee.

Smouha threatened to withdraw from the final, before reversing their decision on Sunday.

"I respect all Egyptian referees, but given the importance o the game a foreign referee would be the better choice. I cannot understand why the EFA refused my request especially as we were ready to pay all the costs," Amer told a TV programme on Saturday.

Zamalek's president Mortada Mansour, meanwhile, has criticised the calls for a foreign referee, insisting that it was a maneuvre from his opponents.

"Smouha's calls for the appointment of a foreign referee for the final are unacceptable. They want to put pressure on the referee. It is better for them to focus on the game and to forget the nationality of the referee," Mansour told the club's official website on Sunday.

The latter added that he is confident that his side will win the Cup, especially given their recent form.

The White Knights have managed to find a happy ending to a catastrophic season, which saw the club end fourth in the domestic league and exit the Confederation Cup in the first round.

They claimed their first league win against Ahly in 11 years after defeating the Cairo giants 2-1 on the final day of the Egyptian league, before reaching the Egypt's Cup semis at the expense of Entag El-Harby (3-1).

In the semis they thrashed Ismaily 4-1 to reach their fifth final in the past six years.

This excellent form prompted Mansour to keep interim coach Khaled Galal for the next season.

"Thanks to the club's president for his confidence and I promise to do my best with the players to achieve our mission and win the Cup," Galal told a TV programme after the win against Ismaily.

Zamalek will play Tuesday's clash without Nigerian midfielder Maaruf Yussuf, who will miss the game due to muscle injury, but they have regained the services of fullback Ahmed Fatouh and keeper Mahmoud Abdel-Rehim after the pair served a one-match ban.

"Egypt's Cup is our last chance to rescue the season and we are determined to lift the cup," Zamalek's midfielder Tarek Hamed told a TV programme on Saturday.

Smouha, however, are also determined to win the Cup.

According to the team's coach, Mimi Abdel-Razek, his side is ready to win the game and they are not interested in the administrative dispute concerning the selection of the referee.

The team suffered in the previous stages as they advanced to the semis on penalties at the expense of Wadi Degla, before defeating Assiouty also on penalties to reach the final.

 They had a previous experience against Zamalek in the final of 2014, which ended in the Alexandrian side’s defeat.

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