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Sunday, 19 September 2021

Zamalek mark Gross debut with dull 0-0 league draw with Petrojet

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 31 Jul 2018
Zamalek midfielder Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz is surrounded by several Petrojet players (Photo: Ahram)

Zamalek kicked off their Egyptian Premier League campaign with a disappointing 0-0 draw with Petrojet on Tuesday, with a bold strategy by new coach Christian Gross appearing to backfire in Suez.

The Cairo giants' formation that featured one central midfielder, four attacking midfielders and a lone striker did them no favours in a dull affair, with Petrojet gaining the upper hand in terms of possession and exploiting acres of spaces in their opponents' territory.

Zamalek, who finished fourth in the league last season, were even lucky to earn a point after Petrojet wasted two clear-cut chances to claim a surprising opening win.

A floodlight failure caused a 10-minute stoppage in the second half but Petrojet remained composed in the face of some tame attempts from Zamalek, looking far from being over-awed by playing against a star-studded side.  

However, Zamalek had the first clear chance of the game when winger Mahmoud Kahraba, who returned to the club after a two-year loan spell with Saudi Arabia's Ittihad, threaded a pass to Kabongo Kasongo who broke clear but failed to make contact with the ball with the goal at his mercy.

Kahraba was Zamalek's only lively performer, with his trademark tricks unsettling Petrojet's defence in the first half.

But Petrojet pressed their fancied opponents high up the pitch and could have taken a surprise lead after 20 minutes when the overlapping Shimelis Bekele ghosted behind the defence, only to see his shot from a tight angle blocked by keeper Mahmoud Gennesh.

Petrojet remained dangerous after the break and Bekele spurned another golden chance to break the deadlock in the 46th minute, outpacing the static defence to go clear and round Gennesh but his angled shot hit the outside of the post, to the relief of Zamalek.

At the other end, Kahraba blasted over the bar when well-positioned to score after a pull-back from Tunisian international right-back Hamdi Nagguez in a rare chance for an out-of-sorts Zamalek side.

Zamalek's Swiss coach Gross introduced new arrival Hamid Ahaddad, playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim and winger Mostafa Fathi, who also returned from a Saudi loan spell, but none made an impact as the team continued to struggle upfront, sharing spoils in a dour game.  

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