Cairo giants Zamalek are looking to win all the remaining matches of the Egyptian Premier League to end the competition in second place and secure a spot in the new season of the African Champions League, according to French coach Patrice Carteron.
The Whites returned to action after a four-month hiatus with a 5-0 friendly victory over Alexandria-based club Smouha on Sunday.
“I am happy with my players’ performance against Smouha. Our main target in the coming period is to win all our remaining matches in the domestic league to end the competition in second place to ensure a spot in the Champions League,” Carteron told On Time Sports TV channel late on Sunday.
“Our target is to reach peak fitness as soon as possible, just like Real Madrid did during the suspension period before they made a strong return to secure the La Liga title,” he added.
Zamalek are gearing up for the Egyptian Premier League resumption next month as well as a vital African Champions League semi-final clash against Morocco's Raja in September.
Their realistic hopes in the domestic competition are to finish second and earn a spot in next season's Champions League, while perennial rivals Ahly look poised to win a fifth straight league title.
Ahead of the current league suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, Zamalek stood at fourth place with 28 points from 16 matches, 21 behind leaders Ahly, who played one match more.
“The league title race is still open, but to be realistic, Ahly is closest winning the title because of the large point gap,” the Zamalek coach added.
Zamalek's primary target for the season, which also saw them win the Egyptian and African Super Cups, would be winning the Champions League for the first time in 18 years.
“CAF’s decision to hold the Champions League semi-final in a single match instead of two was a very good one. The tournament is still open and the top four teams are capable of winning the title,” Carteron concluded.
Zamalek will play friendly games against Talae El-Geish and Pyramids before the league resumes on 6 August.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)