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Post-Match Comments: Reactions to Al Ahly’s Cairo derby win
The 110th Egyptian Premier League Cairo derby was played on Tuesday night and ended in a 2-0 win for Al Ahly. Momen Zakaria, who was on loan at Zamalek during the first half of the season, scored a brace to give the Red Devils the upper hand against their arch-rivals.
Despite the win, Zamalek need just one point from their next two games – against Tala’a El-Gaish and Wadi Degla – to win their first league title in 11 years.
Various reactions following the match below…
Al Ahly’s interim coach Fathi Mabrouk started the match with a surprising line-up. Emad Meteb, who has not been a regular starter since Mabrouk took charge, was given the nod over Amr Gamal, while midfield starlets Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’ and Ramadan Sobhy were left on the bench.
The 64-year-old manager said: “I used Meteb because of his experience as well as him being the captain. I asked him to perform certain movements and he executed them as asked.
“I started with many offensive players, including Momen Zakaria, who is a skilled player.”
Al Ahly’s fans attended Sunday’s training session to motivate the players before the match against arch-rivals Zamalek. “We wanted to make the fans who came to the training session on Sunday happy.”
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) July 19, 2015
Concerning his style as a coach, Mabrouk said: “I work with my soul and conscious while being calm.”
When asked about how he prepared for this important derby match, and if his side benefited from Ayman Hefny’s absence, Mabrouk revealed: “We did not not prepare for specific names; Ayman Hefny’s absence did not cause us relief.”
Zamalek’s Portuguese manager Ferreira, who will continue at his post until the end of the league season, stated in his press conference that Al Ahly were the better team. Ferreira believes that the fact that Al Ahly players won titles before contributed to their victory.
“Al Ahly players have previously won league titles, unlike my players, in which no Zamalek player have ever won a title before.”
The 69-year-old-coach then promised that they will do everything they can to claim the league title.
Ayman Hefny, one of Zamalek’s key players was taken to the hospital just before kick-off.
“Hefny would have made a difference but I can not say that we would have won had he played.”
Moreover, Ferreira mentioned that this loss was also a consequence of the Whites’ tight schedule: “The players were tired, as were Al Ahly’s players. The players are fatigued and they play without rest.”
Ismail Youssef, Zamalek’s director of football, summarized the whole match in saying that Zamalek were poor, and congratulated Al Ahly on the win.
“Over seven players were not in their best form,” said the club legend and former Egypt international Youssef.
“Ayman Hefny’s absence caused confusion,” he added, before concluding: “We were very poor and I apologize to Zamalek’s fans. Congratulations to Al Ahly.”
Al Ahly’s director of football, Alaa Abdel-Sadek, spoke more about the board and their decisions after congratulating the players and the coaching staff.
“This win is the least we could do for the fans, who were able to organize themselves on Sunday without the interference of either the club’s security or the police,” said Abdel-Sadek.
Two days prior to the match, the 110th derby venue was moved to Borg El-Arab Stadium following Al Ahly’s refusal to play in Gouna.
Abdel-Sadek explained Al Ahly’s reasons: “Al Ahly had to win this match as a draw or a loss would officially announce Zamalek as the league winners.”
“This would not have been possible in Gouna, given that the match was to be played at 4:30 PM in very hot weather.
“In such weather, Barcelona or Real Madrid players wont be able to move let alone win”.
The match witnessed some unfortunate events between members of both boards. Alaa Abdel-Sadek later revealed to Al Hayat TV that Al Ahly will sue some of Zamalek’s board members as they insulted their club staff, including Haitham Orabi and Marwan Hesham.
Concerning the football team, Abdel-Sadek insisted that Al Ahly will fight till the very end for the league, despite the fact that Zamalek are much closer to their 12th title as they only need one point from their remaining two matches.
Furthermore, Abdel-Sadek commented on Fathi Mabrouk’s position as the coach, saying: “Fathi Mabrouk has proven himself, he must continue.”
“Mabrouk was able to bring back the calm atmosphere; something which was not present during the time of Juan Carlos Garrido as manager.”
Football director and former Ahly star Wael Gomaa spoke about the derby as follows: “The fans which attended days ago gave Al Ahly great motivation to win this match.”
“Our players are more experienced than Zamalek’s players when it comes to derbies.”
Hossam Ghaly, who despite being stripped of his captaincy in May, has been performing well in the recent matches. Wael Gomaa said that his former teammate does not need the armband to be the captain: “Captaincy is not an armband, it is a responsibility.”
Another one of Gomaa’s former teammates, Rami Rabia, currently of Sporting Lisbon, also had his say on the derby result, telling KingFut.com after the match:
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) July 21, 2015