Egyptian side Smouha will be looking to make up for their recent poor run in the domestic league when they open their group stage campaign of the African Confederation Cup on Saturday.
The Alexandria-based club face Zambia’s Zesco United away from home with coach Moemen Soliman’s future under scrutiny after a series of disappointing results in the league.
Smouha have not won any of their last five league games, drawing four times and losing once to slip to fifth in the standings.
The club dismissed rumours indicating that Soliman’s days were numbered earlier this week, saying they would have no time to find a replacement ahead of the Zesco clash.
Smouha’s statement can hardly be considered a vote of confidence, with Soliman still likely to be shown the door should the club stumble in Africa’s secondary club competition.
The 43-year-old was on the verge of making history last year when he led Cairo giants Zamalek to a place in the African Champions League final for the first time since 2002 but a 3-1 aggregate defeat by South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns ended his dream, with the loss blamed on his tactics by many disgruntled fans.
He has a chance to atone for that as Smouha bid for their first continental trophy.
“We know Zesco very well, they played in Egypt against Ahly in a Champions League match last year,” Soliman told Zambia’s paper Daily Mail.
“We know that they have quality players, six of them are playing for the national team, so we have our confidence and we have to play and give in 110 percent.
“We know Zesco have a good field and we play good football on a good field, so we are waiting for the day.”
Angola’s Recreativo de Libolo face Sudan’s Hilal Obeid in the other Group C game on Sunday.
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