Preview: Zamalek fear ENPPI déjà vu

Omar Zaazou, Saturday 7 Feb 2015

Zamalek host ENPPI in a top-of-the-table clash at Air Defense Stadium on Sunday at 19:30 CLT

Zamalek slumped to a 2-0 defeat by ENPPI in their Egyptian Premier League meeting in December (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egyptian Premier League leaders Zamalek will be fearing a repeat of their shock defeat at the hands of ENPPI less than two months ago, with both teams facing off in nearly similar conditions at Air Defense Stadium on Sunday.

Back in December, Zamalek were condemned to their only loss of the season by their bitter rivals, who managed at the time to overtake the league leaders after triumphing 2-0 at Cairo Stadium.

And with Zamalek approaching the game on top of the table and ENPPI lurking behind in second, the Cairo giants might fear another setback that would similarly take ENPPI to the summit at their expense.

The only difference this time, however, is that should ENPPI emerge winners, they would move top on goal difference – unlike the last time when they went two points clear of Zamalek.

The December defeat, which was marred by great controversy after Zamalek were denied two correct goals, destabilized an otherwise settled club – with chairman Mortada Mansour openly criticizing then-coach Jaime Pacheco.

Despite returning to the summit the following week, it seemed that the relationship between the Zamalek chief and the Portuguese boss was beyond repair – with the latter suddenly quitting his job in an acrimonious manner days later.

All these memories are still fresh in the minds, and with a high-flying ENPPI going into the game with high morale following their 1-0 win over Ahly, Zamalek's mission is nowhere near easy.

But this time around, there is no manager to suddenly exit the club or risk losing his job should Zamalek fail to achieve a positive result.

Caretaker boss Mohamed Salah knows well it is his last game at the helm, with ex-Porto manager Jesualdo Ferreira set to take over after the ENPPI clash.

Zamalek, who have 44 points, will also be looking for their first win over ENPPI in six games, after being condemned to three successive league defeats at the hands of their opponents in their last meetings.

The Whites will welcome back striker Khaled Qamar and Nigerian midfielder Maarouf Yusuf after both ended their one-month suspension for signing for two clubs in the summer.

Midfield anchor Ibrahim Salah is also set to reclaim his spot in front of the defense after being left out from the squad for last week's 3-1 victory over lowly Nassr in fear of picking up a third caution.

Zamalek's only recognized left-back Ahmed Samir, however, will miss out through automatic suspension, meanwhile striker Ahmed Ali has been omitted due to injury.

Midfielder Mohamed Shaaban, out-of-favor Burkinabe striker Abdoulaye Cisse and young forward Youssef 'Obama' were all ruled out.

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