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Thursday, 22 October 2020

Preview: Mido keen to end Champions League jinx as Zamalek begin new campaign

Zamalek host Niger's AS Douanes in the opening game of their African Champions League campaign at Cairo Stadium on Sunday. The match will kick off at 17:00 GMT (19:00 Cairo time)

Hatem Maher, Saturday 8 Feb 2014
Views: 961
Views: 961

Mido will be looking to succeed where his predecessors failed when he leads Zamalek in a new Champions League campaign as the once dominant force in Africa eye their first title since 2002.

Zamalek host Niger's Niger's AS Douanes in the first leg of the preliminary round at Cairo Stadium on Sunday as they look to continue their steady revival under rookie coach Mido.

Mido, a former nomadic striker who played for a plenty of European clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and AS Roma, took charge of his boyhood club following the sacking of Helmi Toulan, under whom Zamalek had a disappointing Champions League campaign last season.

The Cairo giants finished third in Group A with seven points, one behind second-placed Orlando Pirates and four adrift of leaders and eventual champions Ahly, who outshone their arch-rivals during the past decade.

Zamalek were the Champions League's most successful side of all time when they won a fifth title in 2002 but a rampant Ahly side overtook them at the top after winning five trophies in eight years, taking their tally to eight triumphs.

The White Knights are eager to bring back the glory days but before aiming high they must be aware of the competition's upsets.

"I didn't watch more games for Niger's AS Douanes, but I expect they have three to four talented players," Mido told a news conference Friday.

"I won't hold pressure the players, asking them to score more goals during the first leg. All I want is an early goal to take the upper hand of the game, and introduce our ordinary performance."

Zamalek won twice and drew once in three Egyptian Premier League games under Mido, displaying some attacking flair that was nowhere to be seen under Toulan.

They were particularly impressive in a 4-0 victory over Qanah that saw in-form striker Ahmed Ali score twice and Mauritanian forward Dominique Da Silva net his maiden goal after joining on a free transfer from Ahly.

Fans back to stands

Mido's pleas with Egyptian authorities to temporarily lift a crowd ban was accepted as up to 10,000 Zamalek supporters will be able to attend the match.

"The fans are our weapon ... I hope they will appear in a good shape so that may pave the way for their permanent return to the stands," the 30-year-old said.

Zamalek will have to do without regular defenders Salah Soliman and Hani Said, who both picked up injuries in Friday's training session.

The second leg will take place in Niger in a fortnight.

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