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PREVIEW: Egypt Cup final
For the first time since 2007 Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek will go head to head on Monday in the final of the Egyptian domestic cup.
Cairo derby is usually a complicated matter with both teams having a lot on the line, however on Monday the stakes will be much higher for many reasons. The first of these reasons is that it is a cup final and with Zamalek crowned Egyptian league winners for the first time after eleven long years of Al Ahly’s dominance, the Red Devils would still want to show that they are the dominant team in Egypt.
The second reason is the result of the last cairo derby, before that match everyone expected Zamalek would finally break their losing streak against Al Ahly which extended from 2007 especially considering Al Ahly’s form at the time, however Al Ahly were able to win the game with an exceptional display from the whole team and especially ex-Zamalek player Moemn Zakaria who scored two goals.
Every Egyptian football fan now must be wondering how can Ahly or Zamalek win the match on Monday, to answer this question we must analyze each team and try to find how can each team maximize the benefit from his strengths and minimize the problems caused by the weak links.
Breaking the mental barrier
Starting with the champions of the league Zamalek, their main weak link lye in their heads. Since 2005 Zamalek were only able to beat Al Ahly once in 2007 and it happened after Al Ahly won the league and their coach Manual Jose decided to rest nine players. Because of these results and especially the result of the last derby Zamalek players proved that they need to be mentally strong to beat Al Ahly because a lot of times they were the stronger team but they just couldn’t find the means to win. It is now up to Zamalek’s coach Ferrera to break this barrier and to make his players strong enough to beat Al Ahly.
Zamalek have now gone 21 consecutive games without a win against their arch-rivals Al Ahly.
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) July 21, 2015
Efficiency of the wingers
Zamalek played few good games in the CAF Confedration Cup especially against Orlando Pirates and Club Safaxien with some great displays from the new singings like Hamoudi and especially Kaharaba, On the other hand Zamalek’s performance on their way to the cup final was really worrying ecpecially at the semi-final when they were lucky enough to escape a loss from Smouha then qualify via penalty kicks.
The main observation from this game is that wingers especially Kahraba tended to use solo efforts more than he should while missing a lot of shooting opportunities to allow himself to takeover one more player. If Zamalek dream of winning the match against Al Ahly then Ferreira must show control on his players and force them to play efficiently with their only target is winning the game, because against Al Ahly they won’t be able to play comfortably like they did against Orlando Pirates.
Whether people want to admit it or not Bassem Morsi is suffering from burnout. Since the last few matches in the league, Zamalek’s main striker is not scoring as much, making some smart moves and not even scoring much of his medium range shots.
In my opinion this dip in form is due to Morsi being exhausted from last season. This is a problem Ferreira should’ve addressed long time ago by giving Morsi much needed rest.
Ferreira’s preferred formation is 4-3-3, Zamalek’s midfield can be an area of weakness or an area of strength depending on how they will play. Most of the time Zamalek play with a CDM which will most probably be Tarek Hamed with Moruf Youssef and Ahmed Tawfik/Omar Gaber playing in front of Hamed. Upfront would be kahraba on the left Hamoudi or Hefny on the right and Bassem Morsi a a striker. When Zamalek are attacking Moruf would move to the right allowing Hamoudi or Hefny to move to the playmaker position and Hazem Emam would move up from the right back position to support Moruf on the wing. I believe that Hazem Emam runs on the right and Kahraba’s pace and talent on the left are Zamalek’s main strength.
However the main problem that Zamalek might lose control on the midfield to Al Ahly when making the transition from the 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 which might cause the midfield to be in a mess, this point will be explained further during Ahly analysis.
The success of Al Ahly against Zamalek in the last decade made Al Ahly fans always feel over confident about their team. Fathi Mabrouk’s main concern in the build up to the match must be stopping this feeling of overconfidence from taking over his players.
Wasting easy chances
In the last two games of the group stage of the CAF Confederations Cup, a new problem emerged in Al Ahly’s squad which is wasting easy goals, especially from Evouna and Emad Meteb. However it is confirmed that Evouna won’t be available for the match due to injury while the other new signed striker John Antwi is ready for the game. Antwi returning to Al Ahly squad is good news for Mabrouk as he’s considered the best number 9 striker at his current squad, considering Evouna a second striker.
Midfield and right back-dilemma
Hossam Ghaly again being out of squad puts Mabrouk in dilemma. Mabrouk may seek the option to play Ahmed Fathy as a central midfielder to replace Ghaly. Although this might seem like the best option but removing Fathi from the right-back position means that the Bassem Ali would replace him. Although Ali is great offensively his defensive contribution is not that good.
Another option to replace Ghaly is Saleh Gomaa, the only problem with that option is that Saleh Gomaa was out for injury for a long time and being a new signing it might not be very wise to start him in a derby cup final. The last option is playing Rami Rabiaa as a midfielder, however until now his international card did not arrive yet.
Fathi Mabrouk prefers the classic 4-2-3-1 formation which can be changed to 4-2-1-2-1 during the course of the game. The midfield will probably consist of Ashour, Fathi, Momen Zakaria, Abdallah El-Said and Ramadan Sobhy while Antwi will probably fill the striker position.
I believe that links Al Ahly can abuse the gap that Hazem Emam leaves behind when doing his supporting runs.
Al Ahly: Ekramy; Bassem Ali, Mohamed Naguib, Saad Samir, Hussein El-Sayed; Hossam Ashour, Ahmed Fathi, Abdallah El-Said, Moemen Zakaria, Ramadan Sobhy; John Antwi.
Zamalek: Gennesh; Hazem Emam, Koffi, Ali Gabr, Hamada Tolba; Tarek Hamed, Ahmed Tawfik, Moruf Youssef; Kaharba, Ayman Hefni, Bassem Morsi,
Expected score: 1-1, Al Ahly to win on penalties