Despite a big gap between them and runaway leaders Ahly, Zamalek's French coach Patrice Carteron is adamant his side can still mount an Egyptian Premier League challenge as they face Arab Contractors on Thursday.
Zamalek displayed an efficient counter-attacking game to down perennial rivals Ahly 3-1 in the Cairo derby on Saturday, claiming a morale-boosting and timely win after a stuttering run in the domestic competition.
Despite bagging only their third league win over Ahly in 15 years, Zamalek are still 14 points behind Ahly, which effectively equals 17 points because the White Knights will be deducted three points at the end of the season due to their Cairo derby no-show last February.
Carteron still believes Zamalek can't be written off just yet, although he admitted that the more realistic hope would be finishing second and earning an African Champions League spot.
"We won't give up competing for the league title, but we should be realistic that we are currently competing for second place," he said following the win over Ahly.
"We will fight until the end and we are fully fit for the coming period."
Zamalek's primary task to finish second wouldn't be easy, however. They are level on 42 points with the big-spending Pyramids, whom they face in the next round.
Third-placed Arab Contractors are five points behind Zamalek but they can close that gap if they beat their illustrious opponents on Thursday.
Zamalek will have to do without veteran left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafi for the remainder of their league campaign after he suffered a clavicle Fracture in the victory over Ahly. Abdallah Gomaa, who was one of the stars of last season, is likely to deputize for him.
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