Zamalek striker Bassem Morsy (Photo: Ahram)
Zamalek will be looking to continue their unbeaten run in the Egyptian league this season when they visit second-from-bottom Assiouty Sport on Sunday afternoon.
The Cairo side are expected to coast to an easy win on the road, as a victory over the league debutants would see them dislodge league leaders ENPPI from the summit.
The struggle between Zamalek and ENPPI continues for the league top spot, with just one point separating the two teams ahead of the 13th round.
ENPPI top the table with 26 points, one clear of Zamalek - who will now be keen to beat Assiouty ahead of the league leaders' match with Smouha a day later.
Both teams will meet on December 25, and Zamalek will be determined to pick up maximum points against Assiouty and Gouna before clashing with ENPPI.
Despite being widely tipped to easily brush aside Assiouty, Zamalek still bear in mind how the league newcomers managed to frustrate reigning champions Ahly to a scoreless draw in Assiut last October.
Zamalek also enter the game without a host of key members – with keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy, center-back Mohammed Koffi and regular midfielder Tarek Hamed all missing out.
Egypt keeper El-Shennawy has been out since aggravating an ankle injury while on international duty last month. Mohamed Abo-Gabal has been deputizing for him since.
Ex-Egypt U-20 keeper Abo-Gabal does not look as assured as his injured teammate, especially when dealing with crosses, and despite saving a penalty in the 1-0 win over Masry, he could have done better to block Ayman Abdel-Aziz's strike in last week's 3-1 win over Maqassa.
But Zamalek do not need to be as concerned regarding the absence of in-form defender Koffi, who will be serving the final of his three-match suspension against Assiouty, after Ahmed Dwidar proved a reliable replacement against Ismaily and Maqassa.
Despite being an integral member of Zamalek's midfield this season, Hamed's absence may not prove that drastic, with Ibrahim Salah, Maarouf Youssef and Ahmed Tawfik all capable of playing the defensive midfielder role.
And due to the absence of several players, the Whites' squad featured a new face this time around as defender Saleh Mousa - signed in the close season - could be well making his debut.
The 28-year-old could operate as a left-back, and with regular Ahmed Samir one booking away from suspension, Saleh could be given playing time in case he was needed to fill the role in the crucial ENPPI encounter.
Another player to make the squad after a lengthy absence is out-of-favor striker Abdoulaye Cisse, who was included due to the suspension of Khaled Kamar.
Cisse looked to have fallen down the pecking order for manager Jaime Pacheco, who ruled him out five games running, as the Burkina Faso striker should make the most of the chance this time around.
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