The end of the 2006/2007 National Football League was a prelude to the shape of the competition next season

Perhaps no other stage in the National Football League was more telling of the shape of the 51st version of the league to start in the fall than the 30th and last week of the 59-year-old championship. With the defending champions’ performance taking a downturn by the end of the competition, their arch-rivals and runners-up Zamalek got back on track with an impressive winning streak during the second half of the competition, and with a convincing comeback of the usual third challengers for the prestigious championship Ismaili, the scene will be, without any shadow of doubt, different in 2007/2008 season.
Having secured the title three weeks before the end of the competition, Al-Ahli, widely known as the Red Devils, finished on top of the table with 73 points, five ahead of second placed Zamalek. In the last stage, the Red Devils were dealt the second defeat in a row at the hands of third-placed Ismaili. Playing with their second string players, without their head coach Manuel Jose, who took a leave after securing the title three weeks before the end, Al-Ahli lost 1-0 in Ismailia.
The two consecutive losses at the hands of Zamalek and Ismaili in the last two phases melted the icing on the championship cake. Yes, the red fans clapped for their powerless substitute’s team during the Zamalek and Ismaili encounters, yet the two games prevented them from properly celebrating its third consecutive winning of the most prestigious title and the 32nd in its history. While some observers argued that playing with the substitutes was a good decision to assess their suitability, or lack of it, to continue with the team next season, other pundits saw it an uncalculated adventure that tarnished the team’s image by the end of the league.
In fact, the last two defeats Al-Ahli was dealt signaled a downturn in the performance of the team. Having achieved a series of unconvincing wins during the second half, the team finished only five points ahead of their archrivals. In the last two versions of the championship Al-Ahli finished on top of the table with a total of points that was a far cry from that of its challengers. Hence, critics say that the next season will witness a hard-fought and breathtaking competition between top-notch clubs and that Al-Ahli’s mission to defend the title will not be easy.
On the other side, Zamalek put a marvelous performance that made it the best team in the second half of the league. Although the team was knocked out of the Arab and African champions leagues, it maintained its outstanding performance in the local championship. Having garnered 68 points, it crowned its stupendous performances with a 2-0 victory over its traditional foes Al-Ahli. And crushing Masry of Port Said 3-0 in Cairo in the last game came to tighten its grip on their favourite second place, with one point ahead of the third-placed Ismaili.
Zamalek is now focusing on Egypt Cup competitions to make up for this season’s string of failures. Scheduled to meet Assiut Petroleum in the semi-final stage of the competition on 27 June, Zamalek is a stone’s throw away from the final of the competition. Being sure of cruising past the oil company team, Zamalek players will sit and watch the Ahli-Ismaili encounter on 28 June to know which team they are going to meet in the final.
Ismaili’s performance this season is considered by many critics the best since it last won the title in 2002. Having been on the top of the table throughout the first half of the competition, Ismaili could have been the winners this season if they didn’t lose two easy encounters with relegated Tanta and Enppi.
The coastal city club scored as many as 64 goals, equaling the number of goals scored by winners Al-Ahli. Ismaili was also the only team that beat Al-Ahli home and away (1-0 and 3-0). Theirs was an astonishing performance, but it will go down in history books as a mere footnote, for history remembers only those who win the title, not those who played well.
The team is now pinning its hope on the Egypt Cup and the African Confederation Cup. They will enter into a backbreaking encounter with Al-Ahli in the semi-final of the Egypt Cup, hoping to achieve their third consecutive win over the title holders. They also qualified to the last-eight stage in the African Confederation championship.
Oil company teams Petrojet and Enppi maintained their positions in the middle of the table (the seventh and ninth with 40 and 35 points). Assiut Petroleum’s surprising win over Enppi in the last-eight stage of the Egypt Cup came like a thunderclap to many observers. In fact, this was their only achievement this season.
As expected since the very beginning of the tournament, Tanta, Assiut Petrol and Olympic team of Alexandria were relegated. Baladiyet El-Mahalla, Etisalat, and Aluminum of Upper Egypt were promoted to play in the premiership league next season.

 

Statistics about the 50th National Football League:
– 528 goals were scored in 240 matches (average 2.2 goals per match)
– Al-Ahli and Ismaili have the most successful attack line, having scored 64 goals each
– Al-Ahli has the most successful defense line, having conceded 17 goals only
– Ismaili achieved the highest two scores, having crushed Olympic and Ittihad of Alexandria 6-0 and 5-0
– Flavio Amado of Al-Ahli is the top goal-scorer with 17 goals, his teammate Emad Miteb is runner-up with 16 goals, Mohamed Fadl of Ismaili in the third place with 15 goals

 
Team
P
Home
Away
W
L
D
GF
GA
Pts
1
Al-Ahli
30
15
15
23
3
4
64
17
73
2
Zamalek
30
15
15
21
4
5
58
23
68
3
Ismaili
30
15
15
20
3
7
64
23
67
4
The Army
30
15
15
11
8
11
31
29
44
5
Harras Al-Hodoud
30
15
15
12
10
8
36
39
44
6
Ghazl Mahalla
30
15
15
12
12
6
33
28
42
7
Petrojet
30
15
15
9
8
13
36
39
40
8
Arab Contractors
30
15
15
9
11
10
21
30
37
9
ENPPI
30
15
15
8
11
11
21
26
35
10
Masri
30
15
15
9
13
8
23
33
35
11
Suez Cement
30
15
15
9
15
6
25
40
33
12
Tersana
30
15
15
6
11
13
26
28
31
13
Ittihad of Alexandria
30
15
15
7
13
10
27
40
31
14
Tanta
30
15
15
5
14
11
20
37
26
15
Assiut Petroleum
30
15
15
4
16
10
22
44
25
16
Olympic of Alexandria
30
15
15
5
18
7
22
53
22

By Mohamed El-Sayed

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