Connect with us

North Africa

Penalty Power: Zamalek end 16-year African drought

With no extra-time in CAF club matches, the final went to a shootout and Zamalek converted all five penalties to win 5-3

Published

on

Egypt's Zamalek player Abdallah Saleh (C) vies for the ball with Morocco's RSB Berkane player Baker el-Helali (R)

Brilliant penalties enabled Zamalek Sporting Club of Egypt to win the CAF Confederation Cup final near Alexandria Monday and end a 16-year African trophy drought. Mahmoud Alaa converted a 55th-minute VAR spot-kick to give Zamalek a 1-0 second-leg win over Renaissance Sportive Berkane of Morocco and leave the teams tied at 1-1 on aggregate.

With no extra-time in CAF club matches, the final went to a shootout and Zamalek converted all five penalties to win 5-3 before a near-capacity crowd in the 86,000-seat stadium. The regular-time penalty and those in the shootout were all expertly taken, with their power and placement giving Berkane goalkeeper Abdelali Mhamdi no chance.

Zamalek player Mahmoud Alaa (C) celebrates his goal with teammates after scoring against Morocco's RSB Berkane
Egypt’s Zamalek player Mahmoud Alaa (C) celebrates his goal with teammates after scoring against Morocco’s RSB Berkane during the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final football match between Egypt’s Zamalek and Morocco’s RSB Berkane at Borg El Arab Stadium near Alexandria on May 26, 2019.

Success came as a massive relief to the Cairo-based club, who play some fixtures at the Borg el Arab Stadium almost 200 kilometres (114 miles) north-west of the capital for security reasons. After winning nine CAF titles between 1984 and 2003, Zamalek failed to add another until the victory over Berkane in a match that kicked off late Sunday and stretched into Monday.

There was a mix of relief and joy for the predominantly Zamalek-supporting crowd after the shootout as they became the third most successful club in CAF competitions with 10 titles. Al Ahly, Cairo neighbours of Zamalek and their greatest rivals for more than a century, have won 19 African titles and TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo 11.

It was the fourth time in 16 finals that a shootout decided the outcome with Hearts of Oak of Ghana, Stade Malien of Mali and MAS Fes of Morocco winning finals on penalties.

Zamalek players celebrate with the trophy after they won the CAF Confederation Cup final
Egypt’s Zamalek players celebrate with the trophy after they won the CAF Confederation Cup final football match between Egypt’s Zamalek and Morocco’s RSB Berkane at Borg El Arab Stadium near Alexandria on May 26, 2019.

Second Swiss winner

Zamalek coach and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross became the second Swiss handler to lift the Confederation Cup after Michel Decastel in 2007 with Club Sportif Sfaxien. The second leg result in Alexandria could have been different had Hamdi Laachir not squandered a clearcut early chance for Berkane, blazing over from close range.

Soon after, Zamalek came close to cancelling the 1-0 lead the Moroccans took into the return match when a Youssef ‘Obama’ Ibrahim lob beat the goalkeeper but went over the bar. The Ethiopian referee initially ignored Zamalek penalty appeals early in the second half, but was persuaded by players to review a goalmouth incident and ruled that Najji Larbi handled.

Zamalek player Samir Mohamed Ali (L) vies for the ball with Morocco's RSB Berkane player Kodjo Laba
Egypt’s Zamalek player Samir Mohamed Ali (L) vies for the ball with Morocco’s RSB Berkane player Kodjo Laba during the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final football match between Egypt’s Zamalek and Morocco’s RSB Berkane at Borg El Arab Stadium near Alexandria on May 26, 2019.

Alaa blasted the penalty into the net, setting up a tense second half with Berkane sensing that if they scored an away goal, they would almost certainly win their first CAF final. But an experienced Zamalek defence, backed by 31-year-old goalkeeper Mahmoud ‘Gennesh’ Abdel Rahim, held firm to force the penalty shootout.

Substitute Khalid Boutaib scored from the first spot-kick for Zamalek, then Laachir fired embarrassingly wide to immediately put Berkane on the back foot. It proved a crucial miss as Alaa, Abdallah Gomaa, Youssef Ibrahim, and substitute Ayman Sayed scored for the Egyptian White Knights to finally end their African title jinx.

Success for Zamalek confirmed the north African dominance of the Confederation Cup with 11 winning club coming from the region.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

North Africa

Turkey’s Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed

“Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene.” -Erdogan

Published

on

Turkey's Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Serhat Cagdas / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, who collapsed in court and later died, did not die of natural causes but that he was killed.

Erdogan, while giving a speech in Istanbul, cited as evidence that the deposed Egyptian president allegedly “flailed” in a Cairo courtroom for 20 minutes on Monday and nobody came to his assistance.

On Wednesday, the Turkish president said: “Unfortunately, Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene. Morsi did not (die) naturally, he was killed.”

Erdogan said his country would do everything in its power to ensure Egypt faces trial in Morsi’s death. He also called on the Islamic Cooperation Organization to “take the necessary action” over the death of Morsi.

Continue Reading

Africa News & Updates

Morsi gains popularity after death, supporters confer martyr status

Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”.

News Central

Published

on

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
A portrait of former President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi as people attend the funeral prayer in absentia for Morsi at Hunkar mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

Unpopular in power and deposed after huge protests, Egypt’s ex-president Mohamed Morsi could be humanised in the eyes of many Egyptians after his death in court Monday.

“It is sad, from a strictly human point of view”, a trader in central Cairo said of the former head of state, who had been imprisoned since his 2013 fall from power, and was buried on Tuesday.

“He was old and ill. Whatever one thinks of the political situation, his death while the court was in-session shows that those who judged him were not good people”, the trader said, on condition of anonymity.

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
People attend the funeral prayer in absentia for Morsi at Hunkar mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 19, 2019. Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt and he was appealing a 2015 death sentence, making both the man and his organisation extremely sensitive topics in the country.

While Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”, Egyptian authorities appear keen to avoid a wave of empathy from citizens, who largely favoured the uprising that deposed him.

His rapid burial on Tuesday morning took place extremely discreetly and under heavy surveillance, while the public and the press were forbidden from attending.

‘Death symbolically important’ –

Morsi came to power in 2012 in elections that took place the year after a popular uprising that deposed president Hosni Mubarak, who had headed an authoritarian regime for three decades.

Spurred on by mass demonstrations against Morsi’s own rule, the army ousted him on July 3, 2013 and Egypt declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation”.

Ever since, the government has cracked down heavily on opponents, especially on members of the Islamist organisation.

The official narrative, regularly broadcast by Egyptian TV channels — which are all behind the regime — is that the Brotherhood are “terrorists” who harm the country’s interests.

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

Since Morsi’s death was announced, some channels have hosted “experts” denouncing the “violence” and “lies” perpetrated by the group.

On Tuesday morning, pro-government newspapers only briefly mentioned Morsi’s death, without referencing his status as a former president.

TV channels devoted most of their airtime to a visit by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — Morsi’s former defence minister, who ultimately toppled him before being elected head of state in 2014 — to Belarus.

“As a president, Mohamed Morsi was not very popular among Egyptians — in fact he was unpopular, he was seen as uncharismatic, indecisive, very unsteady,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.

But “his death in a courtroom will humanise him in the eyes of many Egyptians” who do not support the Brotherhood, Gerges added.

While Morsi was not a great leader for the Brotherhood, “his death will be symbolically important” and could drive radical elements of the group to take up arms against the authorities, Gerges said.

Radicalisation –

Since its founding in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has faced numerous waves of repression by Egyptian governments, which have been dominated by the military since 1952.

Morsi’s death adds to a long list of what the Brotherhood call martyrs, including the group’s founder Hassan al-Banna, who was assassinated in 1949 by Egypt’s secret police.

Another key figure, Sayyed Qotb — one of the movement’s main ideologues and an inspiration behind its radicalism — was executed in August 1966 by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime, which fiercely repressed the Brotherhood.

But for Zack Gold, an analyst at the CNA research centre in the United States, it is “unlikely Morsi’s death will result in any immediate rise in the security threat to Egypt”.

Jihadist movements — sympathetic or not to the Brotherhood — are already very active in Egypt, particularly the Islamic State group in North Sinai, the Middle East security expert said.

Since 2013, hundreds of Egyptian soldiers, police and also civilians have been killed in attacks.

“In the long term, it would be concerning if the government pre-emptively arrested large numbers out of concern for street protests or other outbursts in the wake of Morsi’s death,” Gold said.

Conditions in Egypt’s prisons “have a track record of radicalising individuals”, he noted.

Continue Reading

North Africa

Algeria’s army chief describes military opponents as ‘enemies of Algeria’

According to Gaid Salah, a constitutional void would amount to “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state”.

Published

on

Algeria's army chief describes military opponents as 'enemies of Algeria'
Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Salah, chief of Staff of the Algerian Armed Forces and Vice-minister of Defence. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Algeria’s Military chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, has regarded those who oppose the military as enemies of the country, as the country’s protest movement persistently demand the removal of the ruling elite that has been in power for years.

“Those who are knowingly trying to circumvent… terms of the constitution, do they realise what it means to suppress all state institutions?” he asked in a speech.

According to Gaid Salah, a constitutional void would amount to “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state”.

Related: Students in Algeria protest against army chief

“It is unthinkable to proceed in the name of the people with the destruction of the achievements of the Algerian people, that is to say… the constitution.’’

Demonstrations similar to the ones that led to the removal of Bouteflika have carried on, with protesters demanding an end to the current regime and the establishment of independent institutions.

An election which was previously planned for July 4 was later postponed by authorities, without a new date being announced.

Related: Presidential elections cannot hold July 4, Algeria’s constitutional council says

On Monday, Algeria’s top businessman Ali Haddad, who was a key supporter of Bouteflika, was jailed for six months for possessing two passports, in the first conviction in a string of corruption probes.

Last week, two former prime ministers were detained by a judge.

Related: Key Bouteflika ally, Ali Haddad jailed for six months in Algeria

The judiciary must “bring to justice all the corrupt regardless of their function or their social rank”, Gaid Salah said.

“The fight against corruption knows no limit and no exception will be made to anyone… it’s time to clean up our country,” he added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Newsletter

Trending