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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Preview: Zamalek, Ismaily lock horns in race for second spot in Egyptian league

Omar Zaazou , Sunday 1 Apr 2018
Ismaily
Ismaily beat Zamalek 1-0 in the reverse Egyptian Premier League this season (Ahram)
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Ismaily and Zamalek will be locking horns in what promises to be an enticing Egyptian league clash at Ismailia Stadium on Monday, with both teams vying for a Champions League-qualifying spot.

With Ismaily only two points ahead of Zamalek in second spot, the Whites will be hoping to continue their superb domestic run under coach Ehab Galal who managed to guide them to seven league wins in a row.

An embarrassing CAF Confederation Cup first-round elimination at the hands of Ethiopian minnows Welayta Dicha, however, overshadowed Zamalek's league form of late – as they will now be looking to make amends on the domestic front.

With the league already secured by arch-rivals Ahly with weeks to spare, Zamalek and Ismaily – who remained briefly in contention for the title – have only the second spot to compete for.

"Our target is to defeat Zamalek," assistant manager and former Ismaily defender Amr Fahim said.

"In case we failed to win, what's most important is to avoid defeat and preserve our two-point advantage.

"Zamalek still have difficult games. We will be hoping they'd stutter which would quite play into our hands."      

The Dervishes, who beat Zamalek 1-0 in the reverse fixture, will have to do without their top scorer with 14 league goals Diego Calderon, after the Colombian striker sustained a toe injury that would keep him out of action for at least three weeks.

This leaves them with Shoukry Naguib as the only fit and recognized striker, with talented playmaker Ibrahim Hassan returning to bolster his side's attack.

A similar situation is also faced by Zamalek, who will be forced to do without injured strike duo Kabongo Kasongo and Nana Poku.

This means striker Bassem Morsi is now sure to get the nod upfront, with him being the only center-forward in Zamalek's squad.

Tunisian right-back Hamdi Nagguez also misses out due to injury, with skipper Hazem Emam likely to feature on the flank instead.

Elsewhere, Zamalek seem well-staffed in their midfield and rearguard, with Mohamed Abdel-Ghani returning to provide backup at the heart of the defense.     

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

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