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Sunday, 18 August 2019

Preview: Gross job under scrutiny as Zamalek eye place in Confed Cup final

Ahram Online , Saturday 4 May 2019
File photo of Zamalek coach Christian Gross (Ahram)
Views: 1806
Views: 1806

Christian Gross' future as coach of Zamalek might hinge on whether the club can win their maiden Confederation Cup title as they face Tunisia's Etoile Sahel in a crucial clash in the semi-final second leg on Sunday.

The White Knights are fighting on three fronts under the Swiss boss this season but their recent form has been alarming, with their fans fearing the club could finish the season empty-handed.

They threw away a seven-point lead on top of the Egyptian Premier League table to allow perennial rivals Ahly to leapfrog them in the crucial part of the season.

On the continental front, Zamalek are in a better possession after they secured a 1-0 win over Etoile in the first-leg in Alexandria, but their below-par displays remain a cause of concern.

Gross has been under pressure, with Zamalek's firebrand chairman Mortada Mansour, who is known for his fiery comments, publicly criticizing his selections.

Reports also suggested that talks between Gross and Zamalek to extend his contract are not going well, although the club were quick to dismiss such news.

"Any contract talks are premature because we just need to be focused on the games ahead of us in the Egyptian league and Confederation Cup," Mansour told Zamalek's official website.

"We have everything in place to be crowned champions at the end."

Zamalek are expected to face a stiff test in Sousse, where they suffered a painful 5-1 defeat at the same stage in 2015. At the time, they defeated Etoile 3-0 at home in the first leg, one goal short of what would have been a remarkable comeback.

The Cairo giants will miss midfield linchpin Ferjani Sassi and Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib due to injury. Etoile will also have to do without Tunisian international Mohamed Amin Ben Omar, who suffered a serious knee injury, and suspended striker Karim Aribi.

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

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