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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Zamalek board face tough task to tackle Pacheco's sudden exit

Zamalek board face an arduous mission to cope with Portuguese boss Jaime Pacheco's sudden exit ahead of crucial league fixtures

Omar Zaazou , Saturday 3 Jan 2015
Jaime Pacheco (L) left Zamalek after falling out with club chairman Mortada Mansour (R) (Photo: Ahram)

With Zamalek fans feeling upbeat about finally ending an 11-year-league drought with a stable side leading the table before the halfway mark, it seems nonetheless that the club's faithful may continue suffering further problems that threaten to derail the team's run.

The shock departure of Portuguese boss Jaime Pacheco, who quit his job on Thursday morning, is yet another obstacle that the board must overcome with minimal losses if they are to keep the team up and running.  

Already reeling from on-loan midfielder Moemen Zakareya's surprise switch to arch-rivals Ahly after attempts to reach an agreement with parent club ENPPI to sign the team's top-scorer, Zamalek's fans and officials alike were dealt a blow by Pacheco's acrimonious exit.

Zamalek looked on course to end a lengthy barren run, which saw them secure only two Egypt Cup titles in a decade, with a formidable side currently boasting the joint-best defensive record with eight goals conceded in 15 games.

Thanks to Pacheco's counter-attacking defensive strategy, life has become difficult for opponents to break the Whites' defence, but question marks arose regarding the team's attacking approach despite topping the table.

That point in particular was believed to be one of the main reasons for the unrest that followed Zamalek's controversial 2-0 loss to ENPPI in a top-of-the-table clash a couple of weeks ago.

Outspoken club chief Mortada Mansour was quick to hit out at the first-team boss –under whose his tutelage Zamalek lost only once in 11 games - right after the game, questioning his tactical approach and decisions to field some players on the pitch.

Mansour even went as far as declaring during a television phone-in that if Pacheco wishes to leave, he 'would rather get lost', with the relationship between the president and the tactician seemingly have reached a deadlock.

Even so, there were still no signs of departure intentions for the 56-year-old coach, who announced just one day before his debatable exit that he was happy at the club and wished to stay for a long time.

And now the Zamalek board, who already sacked Mido and Hossam Hassan this year before appointing Pacheco in October, will have to search for another replacement just two games before meeting arch-foes Ahly.       

List of nominees

The names of former managers Mido, Jorvan Vieira and Arab Contractors coach Hassan Shehata, plus Portuguese coach Paolo Duarte, have all been on the table - with the club announcing that the new boss will be unveiled by the end of this week.

Mido, who guided Zamalek to the Egypt Cup last season, ruled himself out from the list of nominees for the Zamalek hotseat outright – making clear that he is not ready to manage any side midway through the season.

Meanwhile, Brazilian coach Vieira, who managed Zamalek in 2012 before leaving due to a dispute over unpaid wages, is currently unattached after recently parting ways with the Kuwait national team.

It is believed that the majority of the Zamalek board members are inclined towards recruiting a foreign manager.

Vieira does not enjoy the majority of votes inside the boardroom despite being acclaimed for Zamalek's fine performances during his 11-month spell in 2012.

Those who oppose installing Vieira, once touted as a possible candidate for Portugal's managerial post, cite the Brazilian's lack of familiarity with the team after the whole squad was reshuffled in the summer with a host of signings joining in.

As for the time being, Zamalek will be managed by assistant boss Mohamed Salah who also took the club's helm temporarily following coach Hassan's sacking before Pacheco was officially in charge.

Zamalek, who are currently topping the league table just one point clear of closest rivals ENPPI, face sixth-placed Petrojet on Saturday before taking on Shehata's Contractors four days later.

The club's fans will be hoping that the recent incidents will not affect a promising Zamalek side this season, with Pacheco's departure coming at a crucial stage ahead of some decisive league fixtures.     

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