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Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Preview: Ahly, Zamalek caretaker managers have something to prove

Ahly face Ghazl El-Mahalla in Alexandria at 17:00 Cairo time (15:00 GMT) while Zamalek host Aswan in Cairo at 19:45 (17:45 GMT)

Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Feb 2016
Ahly's coach Zizo (L) and Zamalek's coach Mohamed Salah (R)
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Views: 1656

Ahly and Zamalek's caretaker coaches will have something to prove in Thursday's Egyptian Premier League games against Ghazl El-Mahalla and Aswan respectively while their clubs relentlessly look for foreign alternatives.

Abdel-Azhz Abdel-Shafi 'Zizo' said he was asked to lead Ahly until the end of the season until the appointment of a new boss but the team's fine run under his guidance had some people wondering whether the Red Devils really needed to keep pursuing a foreign tactician.

Ahly have won four matches, including a 2-0 Cairo derby victory over arch rivals and defending champions Zamalek, and drawn once since Zizo took over last month following the sudden resignation of Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro.

"The club's chairman told me that I would carry on until the end of the season," Zizo said following Saturday's 0-0 draw with Talae El-Geish in a game in which Ahly wasted a slew of clear-cut chances.

"I will do whatever the club asks me to do. This club is where I was raised."

While Zizo got a confidence vote, at least until next summer, after Ahly had failed to lure several prominent managers including German Felix Magath, his Zamalek counterpart Mohamed Salah may soon find himself re-demoted to a secondary role in the backroom staff.

Salah was appointed on an interim basis after Zamalek dismissed former Tottenham Hotspur striker Mido after the team were outplayed by Ahly in the Cairo derby earlier this month.

The White Knights said they were in talks with the likes of Englishman Harry Redknapp and Dutch Martin Jol, making their intent clear that they, unlike Ahly, would not wait until the end of the season to bring in Mido's replacement.

Zamalek could have narrowed the gap with Ahly to five points but they were also held to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Wadi Degla in Salah's first match in charge following the sacking of Mido, extending their winless run to four matches.

They are still favourites to overcome modest Aswan in Cairo although their reverse fixture ended in a goalless draw in October. Salah left out regular goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi, who is ill, and injured central defender Ali Gabr.

Midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed, whose absence was dearly felt in the past few games, remains out due to a knee complaint.

Ahly were due to face Mahalla away from home in the Nile Delta city but, upon late security instructions, the match was switched to Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium. All domestic matches are being played behind closed doors due to security concerns.

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