Zamalek can't afford to drop any points when they meet Wadi Degla in a vital Egyptian Premier League game on Thursday as the race for the second place intensifies.
Pyramids FC leapfrogged Zamalek into the second spot after claiming a last-gasp 1-0 victory over FC Masr on Wednesday, thanks to a header from forward Mohamed Farouk.
Zamalek will have to beat Degla to restore their one-point advantage over Pyramids with only two matches to go as any stumble could be costly in the race to obtain the last African Champions League qualification ticket.
Degla are expected to provide stiff opposition as they hope to move further away from the relegation spots. They won their previous two matches to go four points clear of the drop zone.
Zamalek are buoyed by two consecutive wins under new Portuguese coach Jaime Pacheco, including a 2-1 victory over Smouha after extra time in the Egypt Cup round of 16 on Monday.
But a hectic fixture schedule led to several injuries plus suspensions as Zamalek will have to do without a number of key players against Degla.
Central defender Mahmoud Alaa, Tunisian midfielder Ferjani Sassi, versatile midfielder Emam Ashour and deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim are suspended while doubts remain over the fitness of Moroccan winger Mohamed Ounajem.
Fellow Moroccan Achraf Bencharki, one of Zamalek's standout performers this season, is also out due to international duty.
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