Preview: Coaching merry-go-round of Egypt’s Zamalek set to continue

Hatem Maher , Friday 25 Nov 2016

Ismaily 0-0 Zamalek
Zamalek played out a 0-0 draw with Ismaily in their previous Egyptian Premier League game (Photo: the club's official Facebook page)

The question now is how long Zamalek’s new coach Mohamed Salah, whose role no one is sure whether it’s temporary, would remain in his job.

Zamalek’s firebrand chairman Mortada Mansour continued his habit of either dismissing managers or forcing them to resign after rookie coach Moemen Soliman, who led the club to the Egypt Cup title last season and a runners-up finish in the African Champions League, had stepped down.

Citing what he perceived as unbearable criticism of his work, from the chairman and media alike, Soliman opted to leave despite helping Zamalek win four times and draw once in their opening five Egyptian Premier League games.

Soliman came under fire for a number of uninspired displays but Zamalek were even more lackluster in their first match after he resigned, settling for a 0-0 draw with struggling Ismaily on Tuesday when they were lucky to avoid a first defeat of the season.

Mansour refused to confirm whether Salah, who took over at the club on an interim basis more than once, would remain at the helm as he gets ready for his second game in charge when Zamalek take on Arab Contractors on Saturday.

The 2015 league and cup winners were managed by six coaches last season, including two in caretaker roles, as they faltered midway through the season to allow arch-rivals Ahly to wrap up a ninth league title in 10 seasons.

With Zamalek unlikely to appoint a new foreign coach because of financial problems, options look limited. Hossam Hassan, a former Ahly and Zamalek hero and Egypt’s all-time leading scorer, is among the favourites to take over should Mansour opt to dispense with Salah.

For now, Salah will be looking to quickly get over the draw against Ismaily with a win over Contractors and he was boosted by the return from a lengthy layoff of playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim, who has been out since suffering a serious knee injury in a Champions League group-stage clash against Mamelodi Sundowns last July.

Winger Mostafa Fathi, dubbed a super sub, will not be available and is expected to be out until the end of the year due to a knee injury he picked up early this month.

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