Former Egypt coaches Hassan Shehata and Shawky Gharib will come face to face for the first time when Zamalek meet Smouha in Alexandria in Thursday’s Egyptian Premier League game.
Both men enjoyed unprecedented success whilst in charge of Egypt, who won three consecutive African Cup of Nations titles under their guidance in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Shehata and Gharib, however, were relieved of their duties after the Pharaohs stunningly failed to reach next year’s Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon following a disappointing qualifying campaign.
They are now plying their trade in domestic football, with Zamalek icon Shehata taking charge of his boyhood club and Gharib, under whom Egypt’s U-20 team clinched the bronze medal at the 2001 World Cup, taking over at modest club Smouha.
“The feat Shehata achieved at the national team is very difficult to be emulated,” Gharib said after being unveiled as Smouha boss following the resignation of Mimi Abdel-Razek.
“Under Shehata, Egypt won three major trophies in six years and enjoyed an 18-match unbeaten streak in the Nations Cup. He also introduced many talented players. His records speak for themselves.
“I fully respect Shehata. The Smouha-Zamalek contest is an ordinary one, like any other match,” he added.
Zamalek, who made a fine start to the season, will be looking to build on their 3-1 victory over El-Entag El-Harby last week.
They are taking heart from the impressive displays of striker Amr Zaki, skipper Ahmed Hassan - who both scored three goals in as many games - and winger Mahmoud Abdel-Razek ‘Shikabala’.
A win for Zamalek will put them joint second with Ismaily on 10 points. Ahly are on top with 11 points, but have played a game more than arch rivals Zamalek.
The success-starved side are boosted by the return from injury of striker Ahmed Hossam “Mido”, who converted a penalty in Zamalek’s opening 6-1 drubbing of promoted Ghazl El-Mahalla.
Benin striker Razak Omotoyossi, who made his Zamalek debut in the victory over El-Entag, has been left out after arriving late from Nigeria, where he visited his ill wife.