Egypt’s U-23 keeper returns to Zamalek ahead of Ahly clash

Hatem Maher, Friday 20 Jul 2012

Egypt’s Olympic coach Hany Ramzy agrees to release Ahmed El-Shennawy for Zamalek’s Champions League game against rivals, Ahly

Ahmed El-Shennawy

Zamalek will have stand-in goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawy available for their African Champions League clash against arch-rivals Ahly after Egypt’s U-23 team coach Hany Ramzy agreed to release him after a protracted dispute.

Ramzy initially seemed determined not to let any of his U-23 players take part in Sunday’s Cairo derby a few days before his team makes their first Olympic Games appearance in 20 years.

However, he eventually succumbed to pressure from Zamalek’s incensed coach Hassan Shehata, who went as far as to accuse the former Egypt defender of igniting tensions between Cairo foes Ahly and Zamalek.

"El-Shennawy will return to Cairo from France on Friday to join Zamalek’s training camp ahead of the Ahly game," the White Knights said in a statement on their official website.

"Egypt’s coach Ramzy agreed to release one player for Zamalek and one player for Ahly. Shehata chose El-Shennawy rather than [right-back] Omar Gaber because deputy keeper Mahmoud Gennesh had to leave the training camp because his mother became ill.

"Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry preferred to call up midfielder Shehab Ahmed instead of defender Saad Samir," Zamalek added.

Promising custodian El-Shennawy joined Zamalek on a season-long loan after his club Masry were banned for one season and demoted to the second division in the wake of February’s infamous Port Said trajedy where over 70 fans died in an attack during a match.

El-Shennawy is set to play second-fiddle to Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed, who has been Zamalek’s regular keeper for more than a decade.

Ahly and Zamalek lock horns on Sunday at Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium in their second Group B game. The match will be played behind closed doors due to lingering security concerns.

Egypt open their London Games campaign against heavyweights and gold medal favourites Brazil on 26 July at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.   

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