Even Pyramids FC coach Hossam Hassan was surprised that his club signed Abdallah El-Said early on Friday, with the veteran playmaker making a dream debut later in the day as his new side came from behind to beat Ahly 2-1.
El-Said, an ex-Ahly player who fell out with the Red Devils in the summer before they sold him as a disciplinary measure after they learned that he had signed for Cairo nemesis Zamalek, scored and provided an assist to give Pyramids a precious victory.
Out of the blue, El-Said left Jeddah-based club Ahli to join Pyramids on a free transfer and he needed no time to adapt to the expensively-assembled outfit.
After Ahly took a first-half lead via a header from Walid Azaro, El-Said whipped in a free-kick which Mohamed Farouk headed home early in the second period before scoring himself with a volley to seal the win.
“I was surprised that the club signed El-Said; he arrived [in Cairo] at 8 am. He of course didn’t have proper sleep and did not have time to take part in the team lunch before the game,” Hossam Hassan, Egypt’s all-time leading scorer and an Ahly hero in the late 1980s and 1990s, told the post-match news conference.
“It was a gamble but I love to take risks, and El-Said produced a great display.”
Pyramids’ win spoiled the debut of Ahly’s Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte, who admitted his side needed to beef up their defence if they are to get back on track as their hopes of winning a fourth successive league title took a fresh blow.
Ahly have so far made four January signings, including Huddersfield’s winger Ramadan Sobhi who arrived on loan and played against Pyramids. However, they have yet to sign any defenders.
“We need to sign a number of players in midfield and defence. I won’t make excuses but we will work to change things in the coming period,” Lasarte told reporters.
Pyramids, who were bought by then Saudi sports chief Turki Al-Sheikh in the close season, closed the gap on leaders Zamalek to five points but the latter can regain their eight-point advantage on top if they beat Ittihad of Alexandria on Saturday.
Ahly lie sixth on 24 points, 14 adrift of Zamalek, but they still have two games in hand.