Ahly's Weiler disappointed at derby loss but not too worried before Champions League semis

Ahram Online , Sunday 23 Aug 2020

Ahly v Zamalek
Zamalek's Mostafa Mohamed in action with Ahly's Junior Ajayi (Reuters)

Ahly coach Rene Weiler admitted that he was disappointed to see his side succumb to a 3-1 loss to Zamalek in Saturday's Cairo derby in the Egyptian Premier League, but said he is not too worried over the team's African Champions League prospects.

Both sides clashed on Saturday with an eye on the Champions League semis, where Ahly will meet Wydad and Zamalek will take on fellow Moroccan side Raja in the semi-finals next month.

Although Ahly pinned Zamalek in their own half for long spells, the White Knights managed to make the most of some devastating counter attacks to claim a derby win in the league for only the third time in the last 15 years.

"I'm disappointed and unhappy, especially after we wasted some goal-scoring chances. But this is football; we have to move on and prepare for the coming matches," Swiss coach Weiler, under whom Ahly look destined to win a fifth consecutive league title, told the post-match news conference.

"But I'm not worried [over Ahly's prospects] in the African Champions League," he added.

Zamalek took a 13th-minute lead after surviving some early Ahly pressure, with winger Ahmed Zizo firing into an empty net after brilliant individual work from Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki on the left.

Ahly's central defender Yasser Ibrahim, at fault for Zamalek's opener after letting Bencharki skip past him, made up for the mishap to bring the Red Devils level two minutes past the hour mark, finding the net following a goal-mouth scramble.

However, he was again overpowered as striker Mostafa Mohamed restored Zamalek's advantage in superb fashion, chesting a cross from Hazem Emam despite being closely marked by Ibrahim, swiveling and hitting an unstoppable volley into the bottom corner. 

Just as Ahly appeared close to leveling the score again after mounting a late onslaught, youngster Osama Faisal, who came on as a substitute in the final stages, slotted home into an empty net three minutes into the additional time to round off another breakaway and wrap up Zamalek's win.

"We changed our strategy after falling behind in the first half but were not lucky enough," Weiler added.

Ahly remain top of the table with 56 points, enjoying a comfortable 14-point lead over second-placed Zamalek.

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