After two successive defeats in the league, Zamalek returned to winning ways...
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VIDEO: Zamalek back at the top after 2-0 win over Al-Ragaa
Zamalek entered the match as the Egyptian Premier League’s runners up with 8 goals away from ENPPI, who have played 27 matches while the Whites have only played 24. Al-Ragaa on the other hand were in 17th place, having earned 24 points from 26 matches prior to Thursday’s clash; just five points away from CAF Champions League side Smouha. Samir Kamouna, Al-Ragaa’s head coach, was eager to upset the league favourites and secure the three points to get out of the relegation zone, as five teams will be relegated this season.
Zamalek XI: Ahmed El-Shennawy; Hazem Eman, Ali Gabr, Mohamed Koffi, Ahmed Samir; Ibrahim Salah, Omar Gaber (59′ Ahmed Tawfik ), Moruf Yusuf; Ahmed Eid (59′ Ayman Hefny), Mostafa Fathy (80′ Ahmed Ali), Bassem Morsi.
Al-Ragaa XI: Eslam Tarek; Ali El-Arabi, Assem Salah, Amr Nabil, Moatamed Mohsen; Mahmoud Farag “Kabonga” (80′ Mohamed Abdallah), Ali Bahig (60′ Tarek Salem ), Mohamed Magdy “Kafsha”, Amir Kaysar; Eslam Foad, Emmanuel Odoi (77′ Ahmed Fathy).
Jesualdo Ferreira, Zamalek’s head coach, started the match playing with a 4-3-3 formation for the first time. He must’ve decided that the opponent’s midfield wasn’t strong enough to play with a 4-3-2-1 as usual, however, Al-Ragaa controlled possession as Kamouna increased the number of midfielders, playing 4-2-3-1.
Zamalek’s counter-attacks were dangerous, as Ahmed Eid and Mostafa Fathy joined Bassem Morsi in Zamalek’s attack, in addition to Omar Gaber. In the 17th minute, Mostafa Fathy won the ball from Moatamed Mohsen, before passing the ball to Ahmed Eid, who assisted Zamalek’s opening goal scored by Morsi.
Zamalek continued the pressure and Fathy hit the left post with his right-footed curler. Kamouna’s men responded by threatening El-Shennawy’s net, while Eslam Tarek, Al-Ragaa’s goalkeeper, received treatment for his injured shoulder. Aly Bahig received the first booking four minutes away from the end of the first half. Two minutes later, Mohamed Magdy hits the bar from 25 yards out just before the half-time whistle was blown.
Both teams came in with the same formation and the possession was now even at 50% a piece. Al-Ragaa started to control the game until Moatamed’s header, which went over El-Shennawy’s crossbar. Ferreira felt that he needed to take over possession so he substituted Ahmed Tawfik for Omar Gaber and Ayman Hefny for Ahmed Eid in the 59th minute.
Tarek Salem came in for Ali Bahig just one minute later. Both teams were trying to avoid conceding a goal, keeping it safe. Mostafa Fathy started using his individual skills to find his way to register his name on the scoresheet. In the 70th minute, Fathy passed through three players, followed by a shot, but Eslam Tarek secured his net from the second goal, for now.
Eslam Foad failed to capitalize on a counter-attack for Al-Ragaa which was then followed by Zamalek’s second goal, scored by Fathy 15 minutes away from the final whistle.
Ahmed Fathy came on for Emmanuel and Mohamed Abdallah for “Kabonga”, in addition to Ahmed Ali for Mostafa Fathy in the 80th minute, but the substitutions didn’t pay off for the minnows as the match ended 2-0.
King Fut’s Man of the Match: Mostafa Fathy
Zamalek’s 2-0 win over Al-Ragaa helped lead them back to the top of the Egyptian Premier League with 60 points, three points above petroleum side, ENPPI, in addition to two deferred games still to play for the White Knights. Al Ahly are back to 11 points away from Zamalek as they sit on 49 points after a 3-0 win over Al-Nasr in Fathy Mabrouk’s debut, following the sacking of Juan Carlos Garrido.