Lackluster Zamalek held to second successive league draw

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 12 Mar 2014

A below-par Zamalek fail to break down Beni Suef Telephones in a 0-0 Egyptian Premier League draw at Cairo Stadium on Wednesday


Zamalek extended their unbeaten Egyptian Premier League run under Mido to five games but a disappointing goalless draw at home to second-bottom Beni Suef Telephones raised more questions than answers for the rookie coach.

Mido's five league matches in charge of Zamalek include three draws, with the evident lack of firepower taking its toll on the Cairo giants who are chasing their first league title in a decade.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Marseille marksman, who became one of the youngest-ever Egyptian coaches after replacing Helmi Toulan at Zamalek's helm in January, is burdened with ending the team's lengthy drought but their recent mediocre displays cast serious doubts over their title credentials.

Zamalek, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Ittihad El-Shorta in their previous game, are third in Group B with 15 points, six behind leaders Petrojet who played two games more. The group winners and runners-up will advance to a four-team mini-league to determine the champion.

With playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim failing to impress, Zamalek's forwards were shackled by Beni Suef defenders in a dull first half that witnessed few goal-scoring chances.

Zamalek's only genuine opportunity fell to Mauritanian deep-lying forward Dominique Da Silva, who exchanged passes with striker Ahmed Gaafar and broke clear but Beni Suef's advancing keeper blocked his eventual tame effort.

Beni Suef's Mohamed Ashraf had a long-range, powerful drive that narrowly missed the target in a rare sight of goal for the visitors, who defended in numbers to thwart their fancied opponents.

Zamalek laid siege to Beni Suef's area in the second half but chances were still at a premium.

Youngster Mostafa Fathi and debutant Arafa El-Sayed, who has not made any appearances since joining from Gouna in January, were introduced after the break in a bid to inject zeal but neither made a notable impact, with Beni Suef defenders enjoying a relaxed night at the empty Cairo Stadium.

Dominique was guilty of another glaring miss though when he ran onto a deft through pass from Moemen Zakareya in the 74th minute. He partially rounded the keeper, whose outstretched legs obstructed the burly forward and forced him to square the ball to a teammate rather than shoot, helping Beni Suef clear the danger.

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