Ahly's Mosimane says Cairo derby draw was fair, asks for 'protection' from hectic schedule

Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 May 2021

Pitso Mosimane
Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane (Photo: AFP)

Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane believes Monday's1-1 draw against Zamalek was fair and hopes his team get "more protection" as they seek to defend their African Champions League crown.

The Red Devils broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute, thanks to a goal from substitute Salah Mohsen, but Tunisia midfielder Ferjani Sassi brought Zamalek level seven minutes later with a superb curler from the edge of the area.

The Egyptian Premier League clash came just four days before Ahly host South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of the Champions League quarters. The team had looked tired recently due to a fixture pile-up. 

"Ahly is the only Egyptian team that is playing in the Champions League and if I were in the shoes of football officials in Egypt, I would have to protect Ahly," Mosimane told the post-match news conference.

"I would not put the Zamalek game before our quarter finals against Sundowns, especially that our opponents are having some rest and they had some of their games postponed there [in South Africa]."

Ahly, who will face Sundowns in the second leg just a week after Saturday's first leg, have played eight games since 10 April, including two derbies against Zamalek.

Mosimane, under whom Ahly defeated Zamalek two successive times, gave credit to his opponents for putting up a fight in Monday's derby. 

"Zamalek played for their pride; they did not want to lose three times in a row against us. They gave a good fight tonight. During the past three games, we scored first and they always came back and this shows that they are really a good team. It is fair that we share the points," the South African boss said.

"It is clear that we are tired after such a schedule and we lost our condition near the end of the game. It's true we lost two points at home but if we are optimistic we can say we took four points out of six from our main rival. It could have been better but we cannot take all what we wish for."

Mosimane also deflected criticism over Ahly's defence, which looked largely porous in recent games.

He said he favours attacking football but admitted that the team must be more vigilant in the Champions League because they might not have the chance to atone for any goals they leak. 

"We are winning and that's what important. I am marking my checklist -- we have won the League, the African Champions League, the Cup, brought a medal in the World Cup and are still competing in the Champions League," Mosimane said.

"So far, I have achieved all of my objectives and we still have the African Super Cup and the Egyptian Super Cup and that will be five titles. Maybe we are not winning by 4 or 5 goals each game but I don't see any team doing that here in Egypt. We are not the best but we will get there."

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