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Preview: Zamalek vow no repeat of errors against Mamelodi Sundowns

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 26 Jul 2016
Zamalek v Sundowns
Ayman Hefni of Egypt's Zamalek and Samuel Mabunda of South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundown in action (Reuters)

Zamalek are confident there will not be a repeat of the errors which led to their home loss by Mamelodi Sundowns last week as they face the South Africans in Pretoria in a vital African Champions League clash on Wednesday.

Some dreadful defensive blunders allowed Sundowns to hit them on the break twice and claim a 2-1 victory in Cairo which helped them go three points clear of Zamalek on top of Group B.

Despite their defeat, Zamalek will still be in pole position to qualify for the semi-final for the first time since 2005 should they avoid an away loss against the same opponents in the penultimate group game.

However, coach Mohamed Helmi, under whom Zamalek embarked on a 12-match unbeaten streak before stumbling against Sundowns, insisted the Cairo giants will be only looking for a win on the road.

"The match is difficult and vital for both of us, but we are only playing to win," said Helmi, who took over at the club following the sacking of Scottish boss Alex McLeish early in May after some disappointing results.

"We will not appear in the same poor state of the home game in Cairo."

Zamalek are spending big in the summer to bolster their squad but a few of the new additions are eligible to play in the Champions League as the team eye their first continental crown since 2002.

Despite the new recruitments, Zamalek will have to do without one of their key players in Burkinabe defender Mohamed Koffi, who went AWOL in protest at late payment despite the club's assertions that he had received his dues.

Playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim, who scored the only goal against Sundowns, is also out after suffering a horrific ankle injury during the game. 

Out of the new arrivals, left-back Ali Fathi has been included in Zamalek's squad for the Sundowns clash. The White Knights can also take heart from the recent fine displays of winger Mahmoud Shikabala, who scored and created a goal to help his side scrape into the Egypt Cup semi-final with a 2-1 comeback win over Ittihad of Alexandria on Thursday.

The 30-year-old was also one of few bright spots in the home loss to Sundowns.

"I trust my players to make up for the absence of anyone, including Mohamed Koffi," Helmi added.

Zamalek's opening 1-0 victory away to Nigeria's Enyimba, who have no points, plus the sudden disqualification of Algeria's ES Setif due to crowd trouble put them in a comfortable position in the three-team group.

Even if they lose at Sundowns, a draw at home to Enyimba in their final clash will be enough to lift them to the last four.

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