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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Preview: Egypt's Zamalek eyeing maiden Confed Cup title in Alexandria decider

Ahram Online , Saturday 25 May 2019
Zamalek
Zamalek lost 1-0 to RS Berkane in the final first-leg (Ahram)
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Overturning a 1-0 deficit is not that daunting for a club of Zamalek's pedigree as they host Morocco's RS Berkane in Alexandria on Sunday with the aim of putting their hands on the African Confederation Cup trophy for the first time.

The Cairo giants looked on the verge of escaping with a 0-0 draw in the final first-leg away from home, only to concede a stoppage-time goal from Fo Doh Laba that makes Berkane slight favourites to win the title.

But Zamalek can take heart from the expected support of more than 60,000 fans at Borg El-Arab Stadium in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

"We have a big chance to win the title. I was hoping we would not concede any goals in the first leg but we can still make it at the end," Zamalek's Swiss coach Christian Gross told the pre-match news conference.

Should Zamalek win the Confederation Cup, it will be the first of a possible treble as they also challenge for the Egyptian Premier League and Egypt Cup titles in the final stretch of the season.

Although they will miss influential right-back Hamdi Nagguez and striker Omar El-Said due to suspension, they were given a timely boost by the return from injury of Moroccan marksman Khalid Boutaib.

They also welcome back first-choice goalkeeper Mahmoud Gennesh, who was suspended for the first leg.

"We have three options to make up for the absence of El-Said. Boutaib can play, [Moroccan] Hamid Ahaddad can play and both can be deployed together," Gross added.

Zamalek have not tasted any success on the continental stage since defeating Morocco's Wydad Casablanca in the African Super Cup in 2003.

They won the elite Champions League five times, second only to bitter rivals Ahly who won eight, but have never lifted the Confederation Cup trophy. They are making their first appearance in the final.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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