El Zamalek Ahmed Tawfik fights for the ball with Al-Ahly's Amr Gamal (L) during their Egyptian Premier League derby soccer match at Borg El Arab "Army Stadium" near Alexandria, Egypt, February 9, 2016. (Reuters)
Zamalek, licking their wounds and manager-less following a 2-0 Cairo derby defeat by Ahly last Tuesday, will have a chance to trim the gap with their arch rivals when they meet Wadi Degla in the Egyptian Premier League on Sunday.
Ahly went seven points clear at the top of the table with what looked like an easy win over the defending champions, who dismissed coach Mido right after the game.
However, the Red Devils wasted a slew of goal-scoring chances in a disappointing 0-0 draw with Talae El-Geish on Saturday, giving Zamalek the chance to narrow the gap to five points.
Outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour said the club would hire a new coach but former Zamalek player Mohamed Salah has taken over on an interim basis, just like last season when he filled the vacant seat for three matches following the sudden departure of Portuguese Jaime Pacheco.
Salah is the fourth manager to lead Zamalek this season after Portuguese Jesualdo Ferreira, who led the team to a rare domestic double last season, Brazilian Marcos Paqueta and Mido.
Following his sacking, Mido launched a scathing attack on controversial lawyer Mansour, accusing him of hiring "imposters pretending to be sorcerers" to improve results last season.
"I'm sorry to say that about the club where I was raised, but Mortada Mansour hired sheikhs pretending to be sorcerers during the whole of last season. The sheikh earned EGP 7,000 per match,” he said in a phone interview with Al-Hayat TV on Friday.
"Mansour even asked me this season not to play [striker] Bassem Morsi, [winger] Mahmoud Kahraba and [defender] Ahmed Dweidar because he said they were bewitched."
Zamalek will be hoping the heated exchange will not distract the players when they face 14th-placed Degla, who lost the reverse fixture 2-0 on the opening day of the season when Ferreira was still in charge of the White Knights.
Degla could give a debut to 35-year-old French midfielder Florent Malouda, a former UEFA Champions League winner with Chelsea who is one of the most high-profile players to join an Egyptian team.
Zamalek are still missing midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed through injury. They left out new recruit Emmanuel Mayuka of Zambia for the second straight match.
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