Preview: Cairo giants lock horns in heavily anticipated Egypt Cup final
Al Ahly and Zamalek will face one another in the Egypt Cup final for the 19th time in the competition’s history, locking horns on Monday night at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria.
In the previous 18 occasions where the Cairo giants have faced one another in the domestic cup final, Al Ahly have come out on top nine times, the last of which dating back to that 4-3 win in the 2007 final which is widely regarded to be the best derby game of all time. The last Zamalek win – on the other hand – dates back to September 2015 when Bassem Morsi’s double sealed the Cup in Petrosport.
Despite it being less than a year on from Zamalek’s triumph in the Egypt Cup final, 2016 is almost the antithesis of 2015 when it comes to both sets of teams. Zamalek struggled to keep up with Al Ahly throughout 2015/16, partially due to the coaching changes throughout the season, the last of which coming following the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns in the Champions League, with Mohamed Helmy departing in favour for Mohamed Salah and Momen Soliman.
On the other hand, despite winning an unprecedented 38th league title this season, Al Ahly have had their fair share of problems. The Reds endured an atrocious start to their CAF Champions League campaign with losses against both ZESCO United and ASEC Mimosas, and their Cup run has been far from perfect, too. Saad Samir was an unlikely hero in both the quarter-final and the semi-final, with his headers ousting both Smouha (1-0) and ENPPI (2-1), respectively.
Egypt Cup 2016 Run
3-0 v Dayrout
2-1 v Haras El Hodoud
1-0 v Smouha
2-1 v ENPPI
2-0 v Shabab El Daba’a
2-1 v Ittihad El Shorta
2-1 v Ittihad of Alexandria
4-0 v Ismaily
Martin Jol’s side enter the encounter with a full squad; however, there are doubts surrounding defender Ahmed Hegazy’s match fitness.
On the other hand, new signing Stanley Ohawuchi remains Zamalek’s only major absence for the Egypt Cup final, having accumulated three yellow cards while playing for Wadi Degla.
However, both sides have to deal with significant departures when they face one another on Monday night. The Red side of town will definitely miss the services of both Ramadan Sobhi and Malick Evouna who departed for Stoke City and Tianjin Teda, while Zamalek miss the services of Mahmoud Kahraba who left for Ittihad Jeddah on loan.
One to watch: Abdallah El-Said
Returning for only his third game since the injury sustained against Dakhleya, Al Ahly’s 2016 ‘Player of the Season’ will certainly add a lot to Martin Jol’s set-up.
Key Battle: Abdallah El Said v Tarek Hamed
Al Ahly’s player of the season against arguably Zamalek’s most consistent performer in the past two seasons. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how Al Ahly’s number ten will deal with Zamalek’s midfield powerhouse.
KingFut’s expected line-ups
Al Ahly: Ahmed Adel; Fathi, Rabia, Saad, Maaloul; Ashour, Ghaly; Momen, Abdallah, Walid Soliman; Amr Gamal.
Zamalek: Shennawy; Shawky El-Said, Ali Gabr, Islam Gamal, Ali Fathi; Tarek Hamed, Tawfik, Moruf; Hefny, Shikabala; Bassem Morsy.
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