Zmalek's winger Shikabala and Ahly's defender Sherif Abdel-Fadil (photo:Reuters)
Zamalek’s hopes to beat arch-rivals Ahly for the first time since 2007 lie firmly on the shoulders of flamboyant winger Shikabala, who has been in a terrific form this season, scoring 13 goals so far and providing several others.
The 23-year-old gifted left-footed international has been a constant threat to opponents with his dazzling tricks that leave defenders trailing in his wake.
His goal-scoring abilities are also evident, including the trademark curling free-kicks which rescued Zamalek on five occasions this season.
"Shikabala is like Messi and Maradona, he cannot be marked," Zamalek football director Ibrahim Hassan said of his golden boy.
Ahly’s Portuguese coach Manuel Jose is well aware of Shikabala’s threat.
“Mark Shikabala and you will beat Zamalek,” he said during a press conference last January after returning to Ahly to lead them for a third spell.
Midfielder Hossam Ashour could be the prime candidate to mark Shikabala, in addition to left-back Sayed Moawad, who might also confront him on the flank.
During the reverse Cairo derby fixture last year, Shikabala was placed under close marking from the Red Devils’ defense, failing to showcase his undoubted talent. He proved ineffective and was eventually replaced by coach Hossam Hassan.
Hassan will hope Shikabala has luck on his side as Zamalek aim to revive their slim hopes of winning the league title.