A gamble by Zamalek s under-fire coach Micho to rest some regulars backfired as the Cairo giants were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by debutants FC Masr in the Egyptian Premier League on Sunday.
Achraf Bencharki put Zamalek ahead on the quarter-hour mark but Omar Habashi scored FC Masr s first ever goal in the top flight to draw them level on the stroke of halftime.
Zamalek were even lucky to escape a shock loss as FC Masr wasted some goalscoring chances, especially in the dying minutes when their fancied opponents poured forward in search of a precious winner.
The result ends Zamalek s winning start and leaves them two points behind leaders and defending champions Ahly, who kicked off their campaign with three straight and convincing victories. Both sides meet in the Cairo derby in their next match on 19 October.
Micho surprisingly opted to leave out several key players, including the regular defensive pair and influential Tunisian midfielder Ferjani Sassi.
Zamalek took a 15th minute lead when Youssef Ibrahim s chipped pass found Bencharki at the far post and the Moroccan fired home from a tight angle, helped by the poor positioning of the keeper.
Until this point, FC Masr looked unbalanced but Zamalek failed to make the most of that and the lowly side grew increasingly dangerous after falling behind.
They wasted two clear-cut chances to equalize, with a header from Ahmed Abdel Mawgoud missing an open net after keeper Mohamed Awad mis-judged a cross and Mostafa Sultan volleying high over with the goal at his mercy after cross picked him out unmarked.
FC Masr deservedly leveled the score just before the half-time whistle after taking advantage of some sloppy defending. Habashi sneaked between the two centre backs to fire into the roof of the net after meeting a cross from the right.
Zamalek s lone striker Omar El-Saied could have restored Zamlek s advantage on two occasions early in the second half, heading just wide from close range and striking the legs of the keeper with a low shot from four yards out.
The White Knights surged forward but hardly threatened their resolute opponents, who were also dangerous on breakaways in a lengthy stoppage time.