VIDEO: Al Ahly kick-off league with win over Ghazl El-Mahalla
After one year of domestic football suspension in Egypt, the Egyptian Premier League returned with its opening fixture in the newly formatted tournament: Al Ahly vs Ghazl El-Mahalla in Group A.
Al-Ahly starting XI: Ekramy; Rabia, Naguib, Gomaa, Shedid Kenawy; Ashour, Shehab, El-Said; Hamdy, Metab, Da Silva. (Coach: Hossam El-Badry)
El-Mahala starting XI: Farouk; Rezk, Zakaria, Bazid, Abdel-Moniem; Seyam, Youssef, Abu-Khalil, Khalil; Ousu, Seyam. (Coach: Ibrahim Youssef)
Referee: Mohamed Abbas
Al-Ahly began the new season without many of their major stars: Ahmed Fathi and Gedo (loaned to Hull City on transfer deadline day), Abou-Treika (loaned to Bani Yas of the UAE), Hossam Ghaly is recovering from an ACL tear while Mohamed Barakat, Walid Soliman and Sayed Moawad recover from minor injuries.
The match in Cairo began with a minute silence to mourn the martyrs of Port Said, following yesterday’s one year anniversary of the tragedy, as matches remain being played behind closed doors for security reasons.
Al-Ahly started in total control of the game, as Dominique squared to Metab only for the off-form Egypt international to miss from six yards. Quickly after, Dominique scored the first goal of the season after flicking the ball over the defender and finishing off a one-two with El-Sayed Hamdy. The Mauritania international also received a yellow card, for his celebration, revealing his undershirt which read, “Will Never Forget You” dedicated to the 74 martyrs of Port Said.
At the 30 minutes mark, Dominique won a penalty for Al-Ahly after a tackle from Abdel-Moniem, who received a yellow card for his mistake. However, Nasser Farouk saved Abdallah El-Said penalty with strong hands.
Ahly strikers continued to waste chances as El-Sayed Hamdy missed from inside of the six yards box after a great ball played in by Ramy Rabia, who had a great run down the right flank.
Ahmed Shedid Kenawy received a yellow card after a tackle on Mohamed Rezk, but nevertheless, the first half came to an end after two minutes of injury time. Dominique was the star of the half with a brilliant display on the left flank, while Ramy Rabia was having a great game filling in for Ahmed Fathi in the right back position. El-Mahalla looked to surprise Al-Ahly with counter attacks, but failed to have a shot on target in the first half.
Fun Fact: Nasser Farouk, who saved Abdallah El-Said’s penalty, is El-Mahalla’s goalkeepers’ coach, as well as being the 3rd choice goalkeeper.
The second half started similar to the first with Al-Ahly all in control while El-Mahalla looked to keep things tight at their own end and hitting on the counters. Ahmed Shokry came on for the only goal scorer, Dominique Da Silva, after two minutes of the second half.
At the 56th minute El-Sayed Hamdy struck the crossbar of an empty goal after Nasser Farouk’s failed attempt to clear Metab’s cross. Hamdy follows it with a great header that nearly missed the goal. The Egyptian international was slightly out of form today, as were most players, expectedly.
Ten minutes passed by with nothing but play being concentrated in the middle of the park, on the 65th minute, Ahmed Abdel-Zaher came on for his debut, after signing from ENPPI last month, as Emad Metab left the pitch.
Al-Ahly stayed in control throughout the next 15 minutes, with Nasser Farouk continuing his heroics, this time tipping the ball to the crossbar as Ramy Rabia cannoned a header after a brilliant free kick delivery from Abdallah El-Said.
Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’ came on for Abdullah El-Said for the final 8 minutes as Al-Ahly remained in control but continued to fail in front of goal. Al-Ahly managed to keep the ball in possession for a long time to stop El-Mahala’s momentum, as Al-Ahly held on to secure their first win of the season.
Al-Ahly controlled the game as expected, with El-Mahala not playing an official game since last year, but the Mahalla keeper still came out of this game with a decent performance. Ramy Rabia had a great game at the right back position, a position he never occupied with Al-Ahly’s first team. However, Dominique Da Silva deserves King Fut‘s Man of the Match award after scoring the only goal and winning his side a penalty.
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