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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Preview: Zamalek injected with new-found confidence as they eye second place

Ahram Online , Tuesday 13 Feb 2018
Zamalek
File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Zamalek and Wadi Degla (Ahram)
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Zamalek are hoping to make the most of a new-found confidence under coach Ihab Galal as they target a second-place finish and a place at the African Champions League next season.

The ailing Cairo giants will be looking for a third straight win when they meet Wadi Degla in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday, having recovered from a slow start under promising coach Galal.

They could only win once in their first five matches under Galal, a run which included an embarrassing 3-0 defeat by bitter rivals Ahly in the Cairo derby, but are gradually finding their rhythm as they get familiar with the coach's attacking strategies.

They defeated Tanta 2-1 earlier this month before securing a hard-fought 1-0 win over resilient Smouha in their previous league match last Saturday, boosting their hopes of a second-place finish as Ahly look very close to securing a third consecutive league title.

Zamalek lie fourth in the table with 39 points, seven behind second-placed Ismaily with 13 matches remaining.

"I had no problem with the criticism I faced at the beginning of my stint with Zamalek. I have the sufficient experience of dealing with pressure," Galal said in a television interview.

"I'm trying to help the players get familiar with my tactics, although I only worked with three of them before," he added, referring to new signings Emad Fathi and Nana Poku as well as midfielder Ahmed Dawouda, who all arrived from Maqassa last summer and in January respectively.

Wadi Degla snapped a seven-match winless run by beating Nasr and Petrojet in their previous two matches. They will be looking to avenge a 3-0 loss to Zamalek last October.

Zamalek will miss Ghanaian striker Poku, who picked up an injury during the 1-0 win over Smouha.

Central defender Mahmoud Hamdi is out due to automatic suspension but Zamalek welcome back from injury right-back Hamdi Nagguez, who joined from Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in January.

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

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