Zamalek coach Christian Gross has hailed his team after the Egyptian side beat Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane on penalties to win the Confederation Cup.
The Egyptians won the second leg of the final 1-0 at the Borg el Arab stadium near Alexandria to make it 1-1 on aggregate.
With no extra-time in the tournament regulations the match went to penalties which saw Berkane miss their first spot kick allowing Zamalek to win 5-3.
“It was important to bring the giants back to their deserved place,” Gross said after the win.
“We’re all very happy, of course. I’m happy for my players and for the Zamalek fans, we had a wonderful night; it’s fantastic to play in front of a crowd like this.”
The victory ended a 16-year African trophy drought for Zamalek.
The only goal of the game came in the 55th minute when Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology was used to award a penalty which was converted by Mahmoud Alaa.
Initially Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa ignored Zamalek’s penalty appeals but once he was persuaded to review a goalmouth incident he ruled that Najji Larbi had handled the ball.
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 African title.
An experienced Zamalek defence, backed by 31-year-old goalkeeper Mahmoud ‘Gennesh’ Abdel Rahim, held firm to force the penalty shootout.
Berkane ended the game with 10 men after another VAR check saw Omar Nemsaoui shown a red card for an elbow in the face of Mahmoud Kahraba.
Substitute Khalid Boutaib scored from the first spot-kick for Zamalek, then Hamdi 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 Zamalek to win the tournament.
Success for Zamalek confirmed the north African dominance of the Confederation Cup with 11 winning clubs coming from the region.