Egyptian aristrocats Zamalek FC on Saturday turned a blind eye on the political unrest back tome to hand Kenya’s Ulinzi Stars a 4-0 thrashing in their CAF Champions League preliminary round match at the Nyayo National Stadium.
“This victory is for Egypt,” Zamalek’s coach and Africa’s most capped player, Hossam Hassan, said after the match.
The legend noted that the game was difficult for his side because of the turbulence back home.
“We just played our best and concentrated on the game on the pitch. We pray and hope that things will be back to normal when we play in the return match at home,” he said.
Riots in several cities, including Cairo, against the regime of president Hosni Mubarak, that brought the overall death toll to about 50, have dominated the global news headlines.
But Zamalek remained focused with Ulinzi Stars coach Benjmin Nyangweso realistic enough to concede their campaign in Africa was as good over.
It will be difficult to reverse the score. They (Zamalek) have won it,” Nyangweso said of their chances in the second leg due in two weeks in Egypt.
Clinical second half strikes from Mohamoud Fathala, Hassan Mostafa, Mohammed Amin and Ibrahim Salaha underlined the gulf in class between the two sides and will once again question the standards of local soccer amidst the euphoria of a professionally run league.
It all looked competitive in the first half as Ulinzi controlled proceeding only let down by composure in the fourth quarter of the field. Chester Okoyo rounded his marker on five minutes but his inviting cross had no takers in Ulinzi’s first foray into enemy territory.
Field captain Evans Amuoka threatened twice with a difficult header and sliding effort as Ulinzi showed promise to the delight of the fair crowd that included Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
But it all horribly crumbled down for the home side when second half substitute Collins Ochieng brought down the dangerous Hussein el Mohamady in the box and defender Fathala made no mistake with the spot kick in the 62nd minute.
“We talked amongst ourselves and agreed we should not concede a goal.
“I think we started very well but when they scored the first goal my players just lost it. Our concentration went,” Nyangweso said.