Zamalek’s new coach Helmi Toulan said beating Congo’s AC Leopards in Sunday’s African Champions League clash will represent a crucial step towards ending the team’s barren run in the competition.
The ailing Cairo giants, who remain one of Africa’s most decorated outfits, have won the last of their five Champions titles in 2002. They have been eclipsed by arch-rivals Ahly since then, with their city rivals winning four Champions League titles in the last eight years.
Toulan’s debut saw Zamalek play out a dull 1-1 draw with Ahly in their Group A opener, few days after Leopards had settled for a goalless draw with South Africa’s Orlando Pirates.
“Our game against Leopards in Congo is decisive and crucial in our path towards the title. It’s the most difficult test that we should pass,” Toulan, who was named as Zamalek coach following the departure of Brazilian Jorvan Vieira, said on the club’s official website.
The cash-strapped Zamalek will miss several key players in the game, including regular goalkeeper and team skipper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed and veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who were both ruled out of the match after falling out with chairman Mamdouh Abbas.
Central defender Salah Soliman and midfielder Nour El-Sayed are also injured, leaving Toulan with a selection headache, given the departure of other key players in the summer due to Zamalek’s mounting financial problems.
“We are eyeing all three points despite the problems we are facing. A win would shape our position in that group,” Toulan added.
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