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Preview: Zamalek aim to keep fast-fading title hopes alive in Egyptian league

Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Apr 2016
Zamalek's forward Mahmoud Kahraba and Soumaila Sidibe of Algeria's Mouloudia Olympique Bejaia in action (Photo: Reuters)
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Views: 1397

Zamalek will be looking to bounce back from their stunning 1-0 home defeat against Ismaily and keep alive their fast-fading title hopes when they face Dakhleya in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday.  

With 12 matches remaining, Zamalek cannot afford to drop more points and lose further ground on leaders and arch-rivals Ahly.

The defending champions are second in the table with 41 points, nine behind Ahly who are eyeing a ninth triumph in 10 seasons. 

After securing a 2-0 win over Olympique de Bejaia of Algeria in the first-leg of the Champions League round of 16, the White Knights will be looking to redress their stuttering form in the domestic league by defeating seventh-placed Dakhleya.

Mission will not be easy for Alex McLeish's side, given the current excellent form of their opponents who usually shine against high-profile teams.

Despite their 2-0 win over Dakhleya in the first round, it was not a walk of the park for Zamalek. They only ensured their win in stoppage time, thanks to a goal from forward Mohamed Salem.

Zamalek will have to do without in-form playmaker Ayman Hefni, who will miss the game due to a muscle injury as McLeish preferred not to take any risks over his fitness ahead of the Champions League clash against Bejaia next week. 

Lively winger Moustafa Fathi will also miss out as he has not yet recovered from an injury that kept him out of Egypt's double-header against Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers last month. 

Striker Bassem Morsi, who has suffered a decline in form since finishing as Zamalek's top scorer in their triumphant league campaign last season, was omitted from the squad for disciplinary reasons. 

McLeish will count on Mahmoud 'Kahraba' Abdel-Moneam and Ahmed Hamoudi, who were on target in Zamalek's African win over Bejaia.

Winger Hazem Emam, who made his first start under McLeish against Bejaia, could be introduced as a replacement for Fathi.   

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