Zamalek striker Ahmed Hossam ‘Mido’ has lauded the impact coach Hassan Shehata has had on the club since taking over in the close season.
Shehata is burdened with ending Zamalek’s seven-year Egyptian Premier League drought after succeeding Hossam Hassan, under whom the team surrendered a six-point advantage to allow arch rivals Ahly to win last season’s title for the seventh straight time.
Zamalek could have given Shehata a perfect start when they reached the Egypt Cup final under his guidance but they suffered a surprise defeat by ENPPI last month.
They have a made fine start to their league campaign, winning three of their first five league games but they are likely to face fierce competition from bitter foes Ahly, who look well equipped to maintain their supremacy.
“Shehata succeeded in pinpointing the problems Zamalek have suffered during the past years. He has already begun to solve those problems,” Mido said in an interview with Ahram Daily on Friday.
“I think everybody began to notice the improvement of Zamalek’s displays but there is still a long way to go, we are taking it step by a step.
“Ahly and Zamalek are the strongest teams, but we should into consideration Ahly’s administrative ability. Ahly’s players do not have problems off the field, unlike their Zamalek counterparts,” Mido added, referring to the White Knights’ financial woes.
Mido was involved in an infamous touchline altercation with Shehata during Egypt’s 2006 Nations Cup semi-final against Senegal, an incident which made headlines for all the wrong reasons and ruined their relationship.
But the former Tottenham Hotspur man, who was 23 at the time, insisted that the row is now a distant memory.
“Our relationship now is better than it was in 2006. Shehata’s experience and technical abilities help him deal with his players well,” he said.
“Furthermore, I’m not a young player to be angry because I’m not playing regularly.
“Some people said I was excluded from our game against El-Gaish because I was unhappy with lack of regular action. The truth is that I was injured and Shehata opted not to play me to avoid aggravating the injury.”
Mido, who rejoined his boyhood club last January, has made few appearances since becoming eligible to play with the club in the close season. Still looking over-weight, the towering frontman is confined to the bench.
“I just want the fans to be patient. I need time to regain my form,” concluded Mido, who converted a penalty in Zamalek’s 6-1 drubbing of Ghazl El-Mahalla in their league opener.