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Portuguese Pharaohs Roundup: Goalless draws for Koka and Ghazal

Portuguese Pharoahs
Round 14 of the Liga Zon Sagres saw Ahmed Hassan “Koka” of Rio Ave and Ali Ghazal of Nacional  play goalless draws, securing their top-half of the table spots in the Christmas break.

Rio Ave visited the team in last place, Paços de Ferreira, and played a fairly uneventful match. Rio Ave’s inconsistent performances (lost against a theoretically weaker side in Arouca and drew with Sporting CP) were in evidence once again.

Koka came on the 74nd minute in place of Joeano and proved to be a good choice by coach Nuno Espírito Santo, as Koka had a shot on target just two minutes after coming on. After another shot, which went wide, Koka headed the ball against the crossbar with nine minutes remaining in the match. However, his attempts were fruitless and the game finished a stalemate.

On Saturday night, in the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon, Nacional faced a very tough task against league leaders Sporting CP, who had to win if they wanted to secure an isolated first position by the end of 2013.

A very balanced match, in which both teams had chances at goal, but none going into the back of the net.

Ali Ghazal played the whole 90 minutes and was once again, a pillar in the Nacional midfield and also tried his shot at goal, with a header saved by the goalkeeper at the 85th minute.

The match had a controversial moment, as Sporting’s Algerian striker Islam Slimani saw a goal being disallowed by the referee, after a foul by Fredy Montero. Replays showed that the call was a rather soft one. In the end of the match, several members of the Sporting squad, including the president, surrounded the referees, in an attempt to demand satisfactions. 0-0 was the final result aswell.

2013 will end with Nacional occupying the 6th position of the standings, just two points from the Europa League qualification spots and Rio Ave are 9th, right in the middle of the log.

The Liga Zon Sagres will return on the 12th of January, with Nacional and Rio Ave hosting Gil Vicente and Marítimo, respectively.

Alexandre Queirós is a Portuguese sports enthusiast, with particular focus African, Portuguese and Oceanic football. He followed the exploits of the Egyptian players plying their trade in Portugal for KingFut.com and also covers the rest of African football for other websites. He also proudly sates that he has been on the BBC World Service radio, even though he only said one sentence.

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