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Preview: Draw against Enyimba enough for buoyant Zamalek in Champions League

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 Aug 2016
Zamalek vs Enymiba
Zamalek defense duo Ali Gabr and Ahmed Dwidar fighting for the ball with Enymiba forward Joseph Osadiaye (Photo: Ahram)
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Zamalek, ecstatic after winning the Egypt Cup at the expense of Cairo rivals Ahly, will be favourites to join Sundowns in the African Champions League semis when they host Nigeria's Enyimba in their final Group B clash on Monday.

The White Knights need only a draw against Enyimba at Cairo's Petrosport Stadium to secure their place in the last four for the first time in 11 years. They are also seeking to win Africa's prestigious club competition for the first time since 2002.

Zamalek suffered two successive home and away defeats by South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns, who top Group B with nine points, but have hugely benefited from an opening 1-0 victory at Enyimba plus the disqualification of Algeria's ES Setif.

Setif were expelled from the competition due to crowd trouble, putting Zamalek in a comfortable position.

The Cairo giants, who have three points, are in a buoyant mood after beating nemesis Ahly 3-1 in the Egypt Cup final last week to lift the trophy for the fourth straight season, having also defeated the same opponent in last year's final.

A draw will lift them through even if Enyimba, who have no points, beat Sundowns in their last group stage game. In this case, both sides will be equal on four points but Zamalek will advance virtue of a better head-to-head record.

The match was originally due to take place on Sunday but was then brought forward one day by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) upon the request of Egypt's security officials, to the frustration of Enyimba.

Enyimba then protested and demanded that the game be rescheduled again. CAF accepted their request and the game was eventually moved to Monday. 

"This is highly unfair. I don't know how the fixture of a game as important as this can be brought forward without any consultation with the visiting team," Enyimba chairman Anyansi Agwu said on the club's official website after the match was initially brought forward to Sunday. 

Zamalek's new arrival Stanley Ohawuchi, a pacy Nigerian forward who joined on a season-long loan from Wadi Degla, could make his debut against Enyimba after being registered in the club's African roster.

Left-back Ali Fathi, another summer recruit, was ruled out due to injury. They will miss Burkinabe defender Mohamed Koffi after he joined Saudi side Al-Ittifaq on a season-long loan. 

"Enyimba are a very tough opponent and naturally they are coming to Cairo to win. But we are also determined to emerge victorious," said Zamalek's football director Ismail Youssef.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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