Preview: Do-or-die for Egypt's Zamalek in Champions League

Hatem Maher, Saturday 9 Aug 2014

Zamalek, under new coach, seek to revive their chances of reaching the African Champions League semis as they host Congolese side Vita Club in Alexandria on Sunday


Zamalek will be hoping a management reshuffle turns around their fortunes as they face a crucial clash at home to DR Congo's Vita Club with an African Champions League semi-final spot at stake.

Coach Hossam Hassan, Egypt's all-time leading scorer, will lead Zamalek for the first time on Sunday after returning to the club for a second stint following the sacking of rookie tactician Mido.

Mido was dismissed despite steering Zamalek to the Egypt Cup title, with a third-place finish in the domestic league coupled with some poor results in the team's first four games in Champions League Group A prompting controversial chairman Mortada Mansour to show him the door.

However, the former Tottenham Hotspur, Marseille and AS Roma striker will still have a role to play with Zamalek after being appointed as the head of the team's youth set-up, which the senior team has mainly relied on recently due to their persistent financial problems.

Mido, a promising youngster at the time, and the veteran Hassan combined well to spearhead the attack of Egypt's national team in the early 2000s and they will be looking to forge an equally effective partnership at the club where they enjoy a huge fan base.

"I'm proud of Mido's experience with Zamalek as the head coach. His new role is equally important because he is now responsible of preparing new generations for the club, and I'm looking forward to working with him," Hassan said.

Zamalek lie at the bottom of their group with four points from as many games but only three points separate them from leaders Vita Club, who prevailed in their previous meeting with a 2-1 win in Kinshasa.

The match will be played at the Alexandria Stadium amid reports suggesting that Zamalek's hardcore supporters, who have a tense relationship with outspoken lawyer Mansour, will attempt to defy a crowd ban.

"The match is difficult because of the shortage we have in our African squad, in addition to the injuries of some players," Hassan added, referring to the problem that was blamed on Mido after Zamalek offloaded many under-achieving players in the close season.

The White Knights, who are chasing their first Champions League title since 2002, had to do with only three substitutes on the bench, including a goalkeeper, during their goalless draw at home to TP Mazembe which further dented their hopes of making the last four.

Any result other than a win over Vita Club will likely seal the fate of Zamalek, who signed a host of new players in the summer but could only register four arrivals in their Champions League squad.

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