Written by Mohamed Mosaad (@MohamedMosaad_)
For the first time in three years the Egyptian derby between Al-Ahly and Zamalek was played with the presence of fans in an epic Super Cup match that showed the quality of Egyptian football. Due to the Port Said stadium riot in 2012, where 74 fans died and more than 1,000 got injured as they tried to escape from the local Al-Masry team fans who invaded the pitch, the Ministry of Interior Security in Egypt banned the fans from attending any domestic matches, including the Egyptian National team’s. This led to the decline of the Egyptian National Team, which did not qualify for the last three African Cup of Nations or the 2014 World Cup.
The Egyptian Super Cup was hosted at the Hazza Bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi, allowing fans to experience the taste of the 86 years old derby. The UAE is known to have a huge population of Egyptian immigrants who work and live there; therefore, the Egyptian Football Federation decided to exploit this opportunity to allow the fans to attend the match and increase the derby’s popularity throughout the Middle East after it collapsed. The derbies are always refereed by international referees, due to the usual complaints that Egyptian referees are biased to one of the teams; thus, Spanish referee Carlos Carballo was in charge of the match.
The match started with cautious attempts from both sides as the game mainly stayed in the midfield. Things got tough for the White Knights as Ali Gabr, one of the best defenders in the Egyptian league, got injured and was replaced by the Burkinabe (from Burkina Faso; do I keep this or no? No) Mohammed Koffi. Ex-Porto and current Zamalek coach Jesualdo Ferriera’s gameplan was to put pressure on Al-Ahly defenders along with using Egypt’s shinning star Mahmoud Kahraba’s individual skills to score an early goal. Ferreira’s plan was accomplished as Omar Gaber managed to take advantage of Al-Ahly defenders mistake and score the first goal of the night. The goal gave confidence to the Zamalek players who controlled the first half with only one attempt made by Gabon’s Malick Evouna, whose shot was deflected away by Egypt’s number one goalkeeper, Ahmed El-Shennawi. Zamalek almost scored their second of the game when Ahmed Fathi tackled Kahraba in the box and a penalty was called by the Spanish referee; however, Kahraba ‘s poor shot was saved by Al-Ahly ‘s keeper Sherief Ekramy. The first half was almost ending until Zamalek’s Hamada Tolba tackled Al-Ahly’s Ramadan Sobhy in the box with another penalty called by the referee. This gave the Red Devils the chance to tie the game and it was done by Abdullah Al-Said, stepping up and sending El-Shennawi the wrong way and ending the first half with a tie to both sides.
The second half started with a fast pace from both teams, especially from Al-Ahly who gained confidence before the break. Five minutes later, Al-Ahly were awarded another penalty after Koffi’s horrific tackle on Walid Soliman. Abdullah Al-Said again sent El-Shennawi the wrong way, giving the Red Devils the lead and flipping the table on Zamalek. The game continued with both managers making changes in the game. Al-Ahly’s substitute Moemen Zakaria scored Al-Ahly’s third after the ball deflected from Ramadan Sobhy’s shot. After securing the win, Al-Ahly’s interim coach Abdel-Shafy ordered the players to defend and play on the counter attacks.
The game was going to be abandoned after Ramadan Sobhy stood on the ball (as a sign of disrespect for the Zamalek players), which led to a huge fight between the players and the referee leaving the pitch. However, 10 minutes later, the referee came back and the match was resumed.
With a long stoppage time, Zamalek tried to decrease the difference and managed to score by Kahraba’s chip over Ekramy. Nevertheless, this didn’t affect the game as Al-Ahly secured their win in the derby for the 60th time and winning their 9th Super Cup.
(Zamalek won the Egyptian Premier League and The Egyptian Cup, Al-Ahly was the runner-up in both competitions)