CAIRO: Zamalek were held at home to a 1-1 draw with a stubborn Gouna side in the Egyptian Premier League on Monday.
Gamal Hamza, who came through the youth ranks of Zamalek, put Gouna ahead on the half-hour mark before Amr Zaki hit a leveler on 68 minutes.
Goalie Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed, one of the Whites’ stalwarts, reportedly refused to come out of the locker room on time before the match.
It is understood that he was protesting against coach Hossam Hassan’s decision to bench him for the third consecutive match. He eventually appeared in the dugout.
However, Al-Sayed assured during the post-match news conference that he did not mean to show up late, saying there are no hard feelings between him and the 11-time Egyptian champions.
Zamalek’s football director Ibrahim Hassan appeared with the team’s coaching staff for the first time after serving a long-term ban.
Zamalek, who drew with Harras Hodoud in their league opener before sinking Pertojet and losing against ENPPI, are now in eighth place with five points from four matches.
On the other hand, Gouna lie 11th in the league table on four points.
The match saw a dull start, with both teams notably cautious in the first 15 minutes.
Shikabala tried to open the scoring with a looping free kick from near the center as goalie Mohamed Abdul-Monsef advanced forward, but his cunning effort went wide.
A Hossam Arafat diving header was also close to breaking the deadlock when he connected with Abdul-Shafi’s cross, again he missed the target.
Shortly afterwards, Zaki wasted a clear-cut opportunity when his powerful close-range shot was blocked by former Zamalek goalie Abdul-Monsef.
Despite Zamalek’s obvious dominance, it was Gouna who took the lead.
Hamza earned a penalty kick after he was brought down by Mohamed Abdul-Shafi in the area. He converted it himself to fire the coastal side upfront.
Upon conceding the opening goal, Zamalek were demoralized and couldn’t carve out many chances in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
Few minutes from the interval, Ashour Al-Adham tried to net an equalizer from outside the area, his drive was anything but accurate though.
Zamalek redeemed themselves after the break and kept looking for a leveler, whereas Gouna tried to maintain their slender lead.
Combative striker Zaki connected with a Shikabala cross only to see his header go high over.
Hussein Yasser, who has had a disagreement with Zamalek over his contract of late, was sent in instead of Hossam Arafat in an attempt to increase firepower.
However, Yasser seemed to be off-form.
Zaki scored the equalizer when he controlled a cross inside the area to slot home.
After canceling out Gouna’s lead, Zamalek tightened their grip on the match but squandered a good number of scoring chances.
From outside the area, second-half substitute Abou Kone fired a shot that missed the target by inches.
Another fierce low shot from Zaki was competently blocked by Abdul-Monsef.