Zamalek’s progress in the African Champions League group stage was overshadowed by a stunning altercation between forward Mahmoud Abdel-Razek ‘Shikabala’ and coach Hassan Shehata on Sunday.
Zamalek defeated Morocco’s Maghreb Fes 2-0 at Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium behind closed doors to complete a 4-0 aggregate win, but the blot on their copybook led to a tantrum from the hot-headed Shikabala.
The 26-year-old, one of the Cairo giants’ most gifted footballers throughout their history, reacted angrily after being substituted six minutes past the hour mark.
Television cameras caught him telling former Egypt boss Shehata: “I’m fed up because of you; if you don’t want me then let me go.”
Shikabala, who came through Zamalek’s young ranks, is constantly criticised by the media for his disciplinary problems, which have landed him in numerous quarrels with the club.
Two goals from defensive midfielder Ibrahim Salah and substitute Hazem Emam either side of the interval lifted Zamalek to the group stage.
The visitors had Said Hammouni sent off after 20 minutes for a last-man foul on Zamalek’s Ahmed Hassan, who was also dismissed in the second half after picking up a second yellow card.
The White Knights, who won Africa’s premier club competition five times, have booked a last-eight berth for the first time since 2008. Their arch-rivals Ahly will be looking to join them when they meet Stade Malien, who won the first leg 1-0 on Monday.
Zamalek needed three minutes to open the scoring when the unmarked Salah sent home a deep free-kick from Shikabala.
In a rare foray, Fes almost levelled the score at 16 minutes, but were denied by a goal-line clearance from Zamalek fullback Omar Gaber.
Zamalek took full control afterwards, launching constant long balls that the Fes defence struggled to deal with.
The hosts were awarded a penalty after 20 minutes when Hammouni pushed Hassan, who was about to score, to receive his marching orders. The veteran midfielder stepped up, but his low effort went wide to the frustration of Shehata.
However, diminutive winger Emam, who replaced Gaber in the first half as Shehata sought to inject pace, made amends three minutes after the restart.
He burst into the area and had two successive efforts blocked by the keeper, who was powerless to prevent him from finding an empty net on the third attempt as Zamalek put the result beyond doubt.
Hassan was sent off after receiving a yellow card for simulation, but Zamalek - playing without their spectators for security reasons - nevertheless eased into the quarters.
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