Egyptian Premier League leaders Zamalek, under pressure from arch-rivals Ahly, are seeking to make light of their squad problems and overcome a tough opponent in Petrojet on Wednesday.
The success-starved side face Petrojet in Suez without a handful of influential players, including promising trio Mohamed Ibrahim, Omar Gaber and Ahmed Tawfik who are on international duty with Egypt’s U-20 team.
Zamalek coach Hossam Hassan is also facing a defensive dilemma as central defender Amr El-Safti will serve an automatic one-match suspension for accumulating two yellow cards.
Natural right wing-back Ahmed Samir, who rejoined Zamalek in the January transfer window, was expected to deputize for El-Safti but was ruled out of the match with a hamstring injury.
Mohamed Younis, 31, could make a rare appearance to partner Egyptian international Mahmoud Fathallah in the heart of Zamalek’s defence.
“We are capable of overcoming Petrojet despite the absence of eight players,” Zamalek coach Hossam Hassan, who shoulders their hopes of ending a league drought stretching back to 2004, said.
“We have only one target to fulfil: we should hold onto our league lead.”
Long-term absentee Amr Zaki and Algerian forward Mohamed Aoudia will also miss out due to injuries.
Ahmed Hossam "Mido" is still awaiting international clearance after ending a long European adventure to return to his boyhood club.
Ahly, who are eyeing a seventh successive league crown, put Zamalek under pressure after defeating El-Geish 1-0 to move to within three points of their Cairo foes.
Petrojet are the second stern test Zamalek will face following the league’s resumption after they secured a hard-fought win over Alexandria-based club Harras El-Hodoud last week.
“Petrojet’s superb teamwork makes them dangerous opponents,” Egypt’s all-time leading scorer Hassan added.
“Their coach Helmi Toulan is one of the best in Egypt but I’m sure my players can pass this test.”
At the other end of the table, the struggling Ittihad of Alexandria, who lie at the bottom, will be desperate to end a seven-match win-less run to keep alive their faint hopes of avoiding relegation when they meet Ittihad El-Shorta.
Second-bottom Arab Contractors take on El-Entag El-Harby.