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Preview: Zamalek eyeing fresh start under Alex McLeish

Ahram Online , Wednesday 2 Mar 2016
Alex McLeish
Zamalek's new coach Alex McLeish (the club's official Facebook page)
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Maybe Zamalek's results have improved of late, but they still lack the spark of last season which they will be looking to restore under new coach Alex McLeish when they face El-Entag El-Harby in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday.

The White Knights are eyeing a fresh start under the Scottish manager, who managed Aston Villa and Birmingham in the English Premier League and led Rangers to two Scottish league titles in 2003 and 2005.

Zamalek recorded four straight wins when Mido took over early in January but their performances were not so convincing for the demanding fans, whose worries turned out to be justified when the team endured a three-match winless run that included two defeats by Ismaily and arch rivals Ahly.

The poor run for a title contender sealed the fate of Mido and under caretaker coach Mohamed Salah, Zamalek won twice and drew once in three matches. However, McLeish must have been told there is still a long way to go before the team could recapture the form that propelled them to a rare domestic double last season.

"I've come to a very big club, not only in Africa but in the Middle East. They are used to being successful," McLeish said after being unveiled as the Cairo giants' new coach last Saturday.

"Technically, I believe the Egyptian players have great technique. Maybe the mentality and understanding of the tactical side of the game is something that I can help the team to go even further and have the success that everybody at the club wants."

Zamalek need a win to remain three points behind arch rivals Ahly, who went six clear at the top with a 2-0 victory over Petrojet on Wednesday.

The White take on ninth-placed Entag without suspended left-back Hamada Tolba, who at 34 years proved a key player in the team's starting line-up, with his determination and never-say-die attitude consistently lauded by the supporters.

However, they welcome back midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed after he missed the previous five matches through injury. 

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

 
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