Ahly boss Manuel Jose believes Zamalek will be a stronger opponent next season following the appointment of Hassan Shehata as their coach.
Shehata is burdened with the task of helping Zamalek end a lengthy Egyptian Premier League drought, stretching back to 2004.
Ahly have won seven successive league titles since then, six of which came under the guidance of Jose.
“Zamalek will be in a better shape with Shehata. They are more ambitious and enthusiastic to recall glory days,” the Portuguese said in a phone interview with Modern Kora television channel.
Jose himself came in for fierce criticism lately after Ahly exited the Egyptian Cup and CAF Champions League in less than a week.
He compared the criticism he received to that of Shehata when Egypt failed to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations finals.
“Despite the achievements he had with the Egyptian national team, Shehata was heavily criticized by local media after the failure to qualify for the Nations Cup,” the 65-year old coach added.
Shehata was consequently relieved of his duties before taking charge of Zamalek, the club where he made his name as a prolific forward in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The once untouchable Jose is highly unlikely to lose his job, given that he led Ahly to a host of trophies in three spells. However, Ahly’s ever-demanding fans are looking for a vast improvement.
“Shehata is an experienced coach who enjoyed huge success. He deserves more appreciation,” Jose said, apparently trying to ease pressure on himself.
Jose returned to Ahly last January to lead them for a third stint. He helped them bridge a six-point gap with Zamalek to win a seventh consecutive league title.