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Preview: Four-goal leading Zamalek out to seal CL final qualification at Wydad

No club have ever overcome a four-goal first-leg deficit in Africa's premier club competition

Omar Zaazou , Friday 23 Sep 2016
Hefni
Ayman Hefny (R) of Egypt’s Zamalek club fights for the ball with Abdellatif Noussir (L) of Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club during their CAF Champions League semi-final match on September 16, 2016 (Photo: AFP)
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It would require a huge collapse on Zamalek's part to give away a four-goal lead in Saturday's Champions League semi-final second leg at Wydad Casablanca in Rabat, and miss a chance to qualify for the competition's final.

The Whites, who eye their first African title since 2002, were lifted by goals from Shikabala, Ayman Hefni, Bassem Morsi and Mostafa Fathi as they thumped Wydad 4-0 at Borg El-Arab Stadium last week.

On top of their wide four-goal margin, Zamalek will also be encouraged by history which has yet to witness a club squandering such a large first-leg advantage in the CAF Champions League penultimate stage.

The greatest of African comebacks were only recorded by Guinean side Hafia and Ghana's Hearts of Oak in 1976 and 1977 respectively.

Hafia, one of Africa's top clubs back then, managed to overcome a 3-0 away defeat at Ivory Coast's ASEC Mimosas by prevailing 5-0 at home to eventually go through to the final.

Hearts of Oak, on the other side, overcame a 5-2 away drubbing by Mufulira Wanderers of Zambia by registering a 3-0 home victory to qualify for the CL final on the away-goal rule.

A comeback by Wyad seems unlikely against a lively Zamalek side who seem to thrive under new manager Moemen Soliman.

Zamalek squad news

Zamalek manager Soliman will be more than happy heading into the return leg with such a comfortable lead being forced to cope with only a 17-man squad, including three goalkeepers, for the return leg.

A host of departures and injuries have taken a toll on Zamalek's African roster, which now includes only two new-signings in left-back Ali Fathi and forward Stanley Ohawuchi - apart from the return of Ibrahim Salah and Islam Gamal who were out on loan last season.    

Fathi, Zamalek's only left-back available in their African squad, is out injured alongside forward Mohamed Ibrahim who is also nursing a long-term foot problem.

But it was the absence of Fathi in the first-leg against Wydad that seemed to have a major negative impact on Zamalek's defence, with makeshift left-back Ramzi Khaled looking far from comfortable in the role. 

Defender Islam Gamal has been cleared to play against the Moroccans after being forced off Monday's training session due to a knee complaint.

Another player initially rated doubtful for the tie but ready to play is dazzling playmaker Ayman Hefni, but Zamalek manager Soliman is unlikely to field his star forward in fear of risking the player collect a second booking that would prevent him from featuring in a final game.

The other semif-final clash takes place between South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns and Zambia's ZESCO United who go into the second leg in Pretoria with a 2-1 lead.

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

 
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