CAIRO: It was not the grittiest of displays from Mohamed Abou-Trika but he still managed to give Ahly their sixth Super Cup title after a narrow 1-0 victory over Harras Hodoud on Sunday.
The classy playmaker, who played in an advanced position, settled the tie in Ahly’s favor one minute past the hour mark with a trademark poacher’s goal as the Cairo giants snapped a four-match winless streak against Hodoud.
He received a standing ovation when he was replaced by youngster Afrotto with nine minutes remaining.
Coach Hossam Al-Badri, who replaced Portuguese Manuel Jose last summer, enjoyed his second triumph with Ahly after steering them to the Egyptian Premier League title last season.
Hodoud, who beat Ahly in last season’s Super Cup and the Egyptian Cup final, could not maintain their recent supremacy over the six-time African champions.
Both sides finished with 10-men in a game full of crude tackles at both ends.
Ahly left-back Sayed Moawad was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 76th minute and Hodoud striker Ahmed Abdul-Ghani followed suit one minute from time for dissent.
Talented holding midfielder Hossam Ghaly, who joined Ahly in the close season after ending a one-and-a-half year spell with Saudi side Nassr, was the only new arrival to be included in their starting line up.
He made a fine impact with some neat passes and feints in the heart of Ahly’s midfield.
Ahly had the better possession in the first half but could not find way through a steadfast Harras Hodoud defense marshaled by veteran defender Islam Al-Shater, an ex-Ahly full-back.
Liberian striker Francis Doe, who replaced the injured Mohamed Fadl, partnered Abou-Trika upfront but failed to trouble opposing defense, who forced him to stay away from the penalty area.
Hodoud also looked toothless but took heart from an inspirational display by forward Ahmed Eid.
The Egyptian international wrecked havoc down the left flank, outfoxing Ahly’s right-back Sherif Abdul-Fadil on several occasions.
He created Hodoud’s first chance after 17 minutes when he cut inside Abdul-Fadil and curled a right-footed shot that went over the crossbar from inside the area.
Ahly responded when a superb right-footed volley by midfielder Ahmed Hassan rattled the post six minutes later.
They were also unlucky not be awarded a penalty in the 35th minute when Ahmed Kamal appeared to have shoved mercurial midfielder Mohamed Barakat but the referee waved play on.
The second half was also a tight affair, with both sides looking unable to show glimpses of their potential.
The usually courageous Hodoud, whose first competitive game this season ended in a 1-0 loss to Botswana’s Gaborone in the African Confederation Cup, sat back and looked sterile to allow Ahly to take full control.
Abou-Trika once again proved to be Ahly’s rescuer, pouncing on a terrible defensive mistake to break the deadlock in the 61st minute.
Mohamed Mekki could only head Ghaly’s cross into the path of the unmarked Abou-Trika, who controlled the loose ball and fired home with aplomb.
Moawad’s dismissal hardly affected an Ahly side who faced little threat from Hodoud.
Numbers where evened up when Hodoud’s Abdul-Ghani received two yellow cards in quick succession for protesting against the referee’s decision not to award him a penalty in the dying seconds.