Cairo giant Al-Ahly held Alexandria’s Smouha to a 0-0 draw Monday in a tight performance to secure their 8th consecutive Premier League title.
Before the match, both teams shared first position in the mini-league to determine this season’s champion. On goal difference, Al-Ahly needed a draw to get hold on the title, while Smouha had to win.
However, Smouha started cautious and was unable to break through Al-Ahly’s defence. As the Cairo team did not look likely to push forward, holding on the 0-0, the match was little elevating for the first hour.
Only deep in the second half Smouha started to show the attitude needed to keep their first league title in sight. A header going over the bar in the 69th minute was followed by a big change in the 77th minute, when Smouha striker Hani El-Egeizy hit the cross bar.
The Alexandrian team piled up pressure on Al-Ahly, especially after Hossam Ashour was sent off with a red card in the 86th minute.
In the nerve-wracking seven minutes of added time, Smouha also received a red card and Al-Ahly wasted a big chance to settle the tie. A final cross of Smouha into the box in the 96th minute caused Al-Ahly fans to hold their breath one last time, but as goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy managed to grab it, the Red Devils could celebrate their 37th league title.
One day after the match, former Villarreal manager Juan Carlos Garrido was appointed as the new head coach of Al-Ahly, replacing Fathi Mabrouk. He signed a contract for two seasons.
The second match in the final round of the league ended in a 2-0 win of Al-Zamalek over Petrojet. The White Knights secured qualification for the CAF Confederation Cup, but disappointment over failing to win their first title since 2004 prevailed. The goals were scored by Ahmed Ali in the first half and Hazem Emam in the second.
Despite fresh coach Ahmed ‘Mido’ Hossam not living up to expectations, Al-Zamalek president Mortada Mansour reconfirmed the club’s confidence in his abilities. The coach can take revenge for the lost league season, as Al-Zamalek in still in the running for the CAF Champions League.
Thursday the quarterfinals of the Egypt Cup are played. Al-Ahly meets Al-Raga’a and Al-Zamalek face 2009 cup winner Haras Al-Hodood.