Hassan Shehata (L) comes face to face with his old club Zamalek (File photo: Ahram)
Hassan Shehata, one of Egypt's most successful coaches of all time, will be looking to haunt the club where he made his name when Arab Contractors take on leaders Zamalek in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday.
The 65-year-old, who led Egypt to a hat-trick of African Nations Cup titles in the last decade, is back to Contractors after brief and less than successful stints in charge of Zamalek, Qatar's Al-Arabi and Morocco's Difaa El Jadidi.
He enjoyed tremendous success during his previous spell at the helm of Contractors in the early 2000s, helping them gain promotion to the Premier League and steering them to Egypt Cup and Super Cup titles.
Their Egypt Cup win came at the expense of Ahly and their Super Cup triumph was at the expense of Zamalek, who slumped to a 4-2 defeat by their unfancied opponents in a remarkable game.
Shehata is considered one of Zamalek's best ever footballers after spending his entire career with the club from the late 1960s to early 1980s, apart from a brief spell with Kuwaiti side Kazma.
"It's difficult for me to lead any team against Zamalek but I will be looking to get a positive result," he was quoted as saying by local media.
Contractors have notably improved under Shehata, winning four times, drawing twice and losing once in their first eight league matches under his guidance.
Zamalek, who are eyeing their first league title since 2004, are still in the hunt for a replacement for Portuguese coach Jaime Pacheco, who unilaterally terminated his contract after falling out with the club's outspoken chairman Mamdouh Abbas.
While Pacheco had a pragmatic and cautious approach that saw Zamalek defend doggedly under his guidance, they looked more adventurous in their solitary match under interim coach Mohamed Salah.
They came from behind to defeat Petrojet 2-1 after producing a vivid attacking display, inspired by an all-round performance from talented playmaker Ayman Hefni. However, their backline appeared somewhat shaky, at times giving Petrojet's forwards too much space.
Zamalek are also distracted by off-field controversy surrounding the transfer of attacking midfielder Moemen Zakareya to arch-rivals Ahly.
The White Knights filed a complaint with the Egyptian Football Association against Zakareya, claiming that he had signed for them before moving to Ahly on a five-year deal from his parent club ENPPI.
Ahly have retaliated, lodging a similar complaint over Zamalek's close-season acquisition of striker Khaled Qamar and Nigerian midfielder Maarouf Yusuf.
Zamalek will have to do without several regulars when they take on Contractors, including full-backs Ahmed Samir, Omar Gaber and Hazem Emam who are all injured.
Midfielders Tarek Hamed are also still out through injury while defender Mohamed Koffi will miss out for the second straight game after linking up with Burkina Faso for African Cup of Nations duty.
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