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Egypt's Zamalek say taking Arab tournament seriously

Ahram Online , Friday 10 Aug 2018
Christian Gross
Zamalek's Swiss coach Christian Gross (Photo: the club's official Facebook page)
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Views: 1975

Egypt's Zamalek are taking the Arab Club Champions Cup seriously and are looking to go as far as they can in the regional tournament, their Swiss coach Christian Gross said on Friday.

Zamalek, who won the title once in 2003, open their campaign against Kuwait's Al-Qadisiya in the first leg of the tournament's round of 32 in Cairo on Saturday.

Critics argue that the Arab Championship, which has been played in various formats since its inauguration in 1980, is not competitive enough and that it only serves to exhaust the players of Egypt's leading duo Ahly and Zamalek, who often take part in three other competitions every season.

However, its lucrative financial rewards, with the winners earning $6 million, have prompted Ahly and Zamalek to accept an invitation from the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) to feature in the tournament, which will be played in a knockout format.

"We want to have a good season and the Arab Championship is a chance for us to play against some competitive and tough teams," Gross, who took over Zamalek in the summer, told a news conference.

"We are happy to take part in a tournament that includes prominent teams from Africa and the Arab Gulf region; it will be useful for us.

"We will not test any new players because we are playing to win and go as far as we can."

Alexandria-based club Ittihad and Ahly are the other Egyptian representatives in the Arab tournament.

Ittihad were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Tunisia's Esperance on Thursday while Ahly take on Lebanon's Al-Nejmeh on Monday.

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