Preview: Zamalek eye morale-boosting win ahead of Cairo derby

Omar Zaazou , Sunday 3 Jul 2016

Zamalek will be looking to overcome some internal problems when they Smouha as they prepare for the last-day derby clash with recently-crowned league champions Ahly

File photo of Zamalek (the club's official Facebook page)

Zamalek will be looking for a morale-boosting win ahead of the derby clash with arch-rivals and recently-crowned league champions Ahly when they visit Smouha at the Alexandria Stadium on Monday.

Having failed to defend their league title following last week's 2-2 draw with Masry, Zamalek – who have been on a eight-match winning streak under manager Mohamed Helmi – have since started to witness problems that could well take a toll on them.

A dispute between manager Helmi and controversial chairman Mortada Mansour soon erupted, after the latter criticized the tactician's decision to rule out Burkina Faso defender Mohamed Koffi and playmaker Ayman Hefni of the Masry draw.

Helmi's disciplinary decision came after the duo had skipped training in protest over some late dues, a managerial action that seemed not to have gone well with the club president.

Even though the matter had been supposedly contained between the duo, further problems continued to plague the Cairo club, with several players refusing to take part in Saturday's training session due to unpaid wages.

Mansour had to intervene and promised his disgruntled first-team men to have their wages paid by the end of the week.

Zamalek enter the match against Smouha on the back of such conditions, even though the game won't mean much for the Whites who have already guaranteed finishing in the Champions League qualifying-second spot.

But they will still need to maintain their run under Helmi, who has yet to lose in the league since taking over from Scottish manager Alex McLeish late in April.

Zamalek are also in pole position to qualify for the Champions League semis - a stage they last reached in 2005 - after opening their group-stage campaign with a 1-0 win at rivals Enyimba and following the expulsion of Algeria's ES Setif by CAF.

City-rivals Ahly and Zamalek meet in the league's final week on Saturday. 

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