Abdallah Cisse (C) of Egypt's Zamalek celebrates after scoring a goal against Tunisia's CS Sfaxien during their CAF Confederation Cup soccer match at Petro Sport stadium in Cairo, Egypt, June 27, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
A wounded Zamalek side will be looking to overcome their sorrows following a disheartening 2-0 loss to arch-rivals Ahly in the league last week, when they entertain Congo’s Leopards in the Confederation Cup at Cairo's Petrosport Stadium on Sunday.
Having pinned high hopes on their side to celebrate their first league trophy in 11 years with at least a draw against Ahly, the Zamalek faithful were stunned to see their team embarrassingly lose to Ahly – who almost lost hope of retaining the league title.
Zamalek’s dismal performance in that match was what particularly infuriated the club’s ardent fans, who will now be hoping for an improved display against Leopards at the continental stage.
Given that the Whites are currently on top of Group B with six points from two games, they should have enough motivation to continue their impressive displays – following a convincing 2-1 comeback win at Orlando Pirates a fortnight ago.
Should Jesualdo Ferreira’s men come up with all three points against Leopards, they would be the first Egyptian outfit to win their first three games in Africa’s secondary competition.
They will be glad to welcome back midfield wizard Ayman Hefni, who missed the Ahly defeat shortly before the match after being hit by flu and sent to hospital as a result.
The absence of Hefni in particular was deemed one of the reasons why Zamalek failed to threaten the Ahly goal throughout – with the lack of his creativity in the final third proving costly.
The game will also be treated by Zamalek as a final rehearsal before Wednesday’s decisive league clash with Talae El-Gaish, where a draw would suffice to secure their long-awaited league title.
“There is much importance placed upon the Leopards game, given that it’s the first test following the defeat by Ahly,” Zamalek football director Ismail Youssef said in a news conference on Friday.
“We know that it won’t be an easy game, Leopards are a very good team, but we insist on winning the game to please our fans once again, especially that a win would boost our qualification chances to the next stage. “
Zamalek could also take heart from their previous meetings, where they made up for a 1-0 away defeat to Leopards with a 4-1 win at home in the 2013 Champions League group-stage – even though Zamalek had already lost hopes of a semi-final qualification.
One-time Confederation Cup champions Leopards are currently third of the group with one point, following a 1-0 home defeat by Orlando Pirates and an away draw with Tunisia’s Sfaxien.
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