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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Preview: Zamalek settle on Morocco's Boutaib as their lethal weapon upfront

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Feb 2019
Zamalek's Moroccan striker Khalid Boutaib (Photo: the club's official Facebook page)
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Egyptian Premier League leaders Zamalek looked to have finally found the target man they needed as Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib starts to win over the fans following his January arrival.

The 31-year-old will spearhead the team's attack when they meet Talae El-Geish on Wednesday, having opened his account in the league in the 2-1 win over Enppi on Sunday when he robbed the hesitant keeper to slot into an empty net.

He also netted his maiden goal for Zamalek in a 1-1 draw at home to Algeria's NA Hussein Dey in the African Confederation Cup, showing some poaching abilities that will bode well for coach Christian Gross.

He also tends to drop deep and contribute to Zamalek's build-up play, something which Kabongo Kasongo, now on loan at Saudi Arabia's Al-Wehda, also used to do although the Congolese striker was often criticised for his profligacy.

Boutaib spurned two gilt-edged chances in the win over Enppi but his finishing still seems much better than Kasongo's, with Gross likely to rely on him as his number one choice striker.

Zamalek are enjoying a great run of form as they pursue their first league title since 2015, having won 12 out of their last 13 games. They showed an attacking verve that drew admiration, although their defensive displays are still questionable.

They are favourites to maintain their perfect run against El-Geish, who lie 10th in the table with 25 points from 22 matches.

Zamalek top the league with 51 points, six ahead of second-placed Pyramids, who played three matches more, and nine clear of main challengers and holders Ahly who still have a match in hand over their bitter Cairo rivals.

Gross opted to rest central defender Mahmoud Alaa, the league's top scorer with 12 goals, against El-Geish, the team he netted a hat-trick against last September. Zamalek will also continue to miss winger Mostafa Fathi due to injury.

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

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