New coach enters the Zamalek mess

Alaa Abdel-Ghani., Tuesday 11 Apr 2023

Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio is the team’s fifth manager this season



The 61-year old Osorio will succeed Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira who was let go after the team’s elimination from the African Champions League, reports Alaa Abdel-Ghani.

Osorio will be the fifth coach to lead Zamalek this season, after Jesualdo Ferreira, Osama Nabih, and caretaker coaches Ahmed Abdel-Maksoud and Medhat Abdel-Hadi who was in charge on Sunday when Zamalek edged NBE 1-0 in the Egyptian League.

Osorio started his coaching career at Manchester City where he spent four years as an assistant manager with Kevin Keegan and Stuart Pearce, helping City win the Premier League title in 2002.

At the club level, he also coached the New York Red Bulls of the MSL, Brazil’s São Paulo and Colombia’s Atlético Nacional.

He guided Mexico from 2015 to 2018 and Paraguay from 2018 to 2019. In the round of 16 in the 2018 World Cup he led Mexico to a famous win over Germany.

Despite a decent coaching history, Zamalek President Mortada Mansour, who announced the hiring, said the deal was pretty much a roll of the dice. “We hire the coach according to his reputation, but finally he could be lucky or not,” Mansour added.

Osorio has his work cut out for him. The two-time defending league champion were, as of Monday, in fourth place in the league with 36 points from 22 games, 11 points behind leaders Ahly who have played three games less. The season has a 34-game schedule.

Zamalek were also recently knocked out of the CAF Champions League in the group stage and the Egypt Cup which they won last year.

Things got so chaotic that days before the Osorio announcement, Zamalek had reportedly hired former Bayer Leverkusen manager Heiko Herrlich who flew to Egypt, found nobody to talk to and left.

“I didn’t hear anything from the club the entire day, so I thought that the whole thing doesn’t make sense if I don’t have a contact person,” Herrlich said.

“There is too much unrest in and around this club, so I turned down the offer, which was really great,” Herrlich reportedly told Bild.

“I would have really liked to have had this experience abroad, but I’m not the right person to solve the current problems at Zamalek.”

One individual who might believe he is the right person is Mansour who was recently released from jail where he spent 30 days for defaming the president of crosstown rivals Ahly.

Mansour said on Monday that his sojourn was responsible for Zamalek going off the rails.

“What is happening with Zamalek is not fair because usually when a father of a family is imprisoned, the children are affected and that of course, leads to negative results,” Mansour told the club’s TV channel.

“The players were affected by my imprisonment, and this resulted in us dropping six points in the CAF Champions League group stages,” he added.

It didn’t take long after Mansour’s incarceration for him to suspend four unnamed players in the wake of the club’s dramatic league defeat to Masri in which they were leading 2-0 before going down 3-2, their sixth loss of the season.

Club board member Gamal Abdel-Hamid said on the Zamalek TV channel that Mansour told him that four players will be suspended and that 30 per cent of their total salaries and 25 per cent of their current season salaries will be deducted.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 13 April, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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