Preview: Zamalek aim to keep pace with Egyptian league leaders Ahly

Ahram Online , Tuesday 20 Dec 2016

Zamalek players celebrate their 2-0 Egyptian league win over Ittihad of Alexandria (the club's official Facebook page)

Zamalek play two rescheduled Egyptian Premier League games with the aim of keeping pace with leaders Ahly before an anticipated Cairo derby against their bitter rivals next week.

The White Knights will be eyeing a third straight league win under new coach Mohamed Helmi when they face El-Entag El-Harby, who lie 12th in the 18-team table, on Wednesday.

They also play lowly Sharqeya on Saturday, five days before meeting Ahly in a vital match that may define their season as they seek to wrestle the league title back from their cross-town rivals.

Zamalek have 28 points from 12 games, 14 behind leaders Ahly who played four matches more.

Helmi's men recorded an easy 2-0 victory over Ittihad of Alexandria last Saturday as they gradually improve after a number of stuttering displays under Moemen Soliman and Mohamed earlier in the season.

"I'm not pleased with the goal-scoring opportunities we wasted in the latter stages of the match but I'm sure we will only get better in the coming matches," Helmi said after the win over Ittihad.

Ahly will not play any league game before facing Zamalek and are likely to rest their key players when they face lower-tier Aluminum in an Egypt Cup round of 32 match on Thursday.

Zamalek were boosted by the news that three key players have committed their future to the club after reports suggested that they might not pen new deals with the club.

Stand-in goalkeeper Mahmoud Gennesh, who has produced some superb displays between the sticks when he deputized for Ahmed El-Shennawi after he was injured, and defensive midfielder Ibrahim Salah have already signed new deals.

Bassem Morsi, Zamalek's top scorer when they won the Egyptian league title in 2015, is also expected to follow suit, according to club chairman Mortada Mansour.

Zamalek have no injury worries before facing Entag, with key winger Mahmoud Shikabala and Nigerian forward Stanley Ohawuchi shrugging off minor knocks ahead of the match.

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