Zamalek use penalty power to end 16-year African trophy drought

Zamalek’s Mahmoud Alaa, left, after scoring against Morocco’s RSB Berkane during the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final at Borg El Arab Stadium near Alexandria. (AFP)
Updated 27 May 2019
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Zamalek use penalty power to end 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 Borg El Arab Stadium near Alexandria

JOHANNESBURG: 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.
Success came as a massive relief to the Cairo-based club, who play some fixtures at the Borg el Arab Stadium almost 200 kilometers (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 neighbors 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 coach and former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross became the second Swiss handler to lift the Confederation Cup after Michel Decastel in 2007 with a Tunisian club.
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 canceling 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.
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 defense, 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 — the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League — with 11 winning club coming from the region.


Ex-England forward Beardsley suspended over racist comments

Updated 19 September 2019

Ex-England forward Beardsley suspended over racist comments

  • Peter Beardsley suspended from all football-related activity for 32 weeks
  • Beardsley, who denied the allegations, has also been ordered to complete a face-to-face education course

LONDON: Former Newcastle Under-23s coach Peter Beardsley has been suspended from all football-related activity for 32 weeks after he was found guilty of making racist comments.
The England international, who played for Newcastle and Liverpool, was charged earlier this year by the Football Association with three counts of using racist language.
The 58-year-old’s departure from the Premier League club was confirmed in March after he was placed on leave while an investigation into bullying was carried out.
An FA statement said: “All three breaches of FA Rule E3 were denied but subsequently found proven based upon the results and findings of Newcastle United FC’s disciplinary proceedings.”
It added: “An independent regulatory commission has suspended Peter Beardsley from all football and football-related activity for a period of 32 weeks until 29 April 2020.”
The commission’s report described Beardsley as a “towering figure in football” and said his football reputation was “beyond question.”
But it found: “On the three occasions which are the subject of the charges, he made remarks which were obviously racist and were wholly unacceptable.
“Even if he did not intend to do so, he plainly did cause offense. It is particularly important at a time when racism in football is prevalent that remarks of the kind made by Mr. Beardsley are punished severely.”
Beardsley, who denied the allegations, has also been ordered to complete a “face-to-face” education course.
In a statement released on his behalf by his solicitors, Beardsley spoke of his disappointment at the decision, but vowed to return to football.
It said: “Peter Beardsley is very surprised and disappointed by the decision of the regulatory commission.
“It was almost impossible for Peter to clear his name because of the serious flaws and contamination of evidence that occurred in the disciplinary process before Newcastle United and by the unusual fact that the FA Rules put the burden of proof on him to prove his innocence in the proceedings.
“After a long process which has been unnecessarily protracted, Peter feels vindicated that the commission has expressly found that he is not a racist.”