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Preview: Zamalek out to make amends against Algeria's Bejaia in Champions League

Zamalek out to make up for their domestic league home defeat against Ismaily when they host Algeria's MO Bejaia in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Saturday at 20:00 CLT

Omar Zaazou , Friday 8 Apr 2016
Zamalek
Zamalek February 9, 2016. (Reuters)
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Zamalek will be looking to make amends for their recent Egyptian league home defeat by Ismaily when they resume their CAF Champions League campaign against Algeria's MO Bejaia in the competition's last-16 on Saturday.

Having fallen to a 1-0 loss to rivals Ismaily, a reverse that widened the gap with league leaders and arch-rivals Ahly to nine points, Egyptian champions Zamalek will now be aiming to get back on track this time in Africa.

But their mission will not easy, given that their opponents managed to overcome Tunisia's Club Africain 2-1 on aggregate in the first round.

Domestically, Algerian Cup holders Bejaia are currently second in the league table behind leaders USM Alger – who are 13 points clear on top.

Even so, Zamalek chairman Mortada Mansour believes his side are capable of settling the tie in Cairo before flying to Bejaia 10 days later.

"We cannot ease off by all means in the upcoming game," Mansour told reporters referring to the Bejaia clash.

"We should win by at least a three-goal margin here in Cairo. The Algerian team are a quite strong side.

"The return leg is in Algeria, thus we should settle the tie from the first leg."

Zamalek, on the other side, did not quite enjoy the most stable of conditions ahead of their African tie – with football director Ismail Youssef sacked by the board just few days before the game, as Abdel-Halim Ali replaced him.

With fans set to attend the game at Cairo's Petrosport Stadium, Zamalek chairman Mansour surprisingly insisted supporters should only buy tickets from specific outlets at the club headquarters.

The decision resulted in chaos inside the club's premises on Wednesday, forcing the first-team's training session to be delayed twice due to the presence of large numbers of fans on the training ground.

As to the game itself, Zamalek will still be missing skillful winger Mostafa Fathi, who remains out with an abdominal injury sustained during the Egypt training camp.

Striker Ahmed Hassan Mekki, who was brought on as a second-half sub against Ismaily, was also left out of the squad, alongside midfielder Ibrahim Abdel-Khaleq, left-back Mohamed Adel Gomaa and forward Mohamed Salem.

Five-time African champions Zamalek, who qualified for the round of 16 after beating Cameroon's Union Douala 3-0 on aggregate, will be eyeing their first continental trophy since 2002.

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