Preview: Egypt's Zamalek in tough mission against Morocco's Wydad in CL semis

Mahmoud Elassal , Thursday 15 Sep 2016

Zamalek's coaching staff have stressed that an allowance by the interior ministry to lift a ban on fans attending matches will give the side the necessary push to win at Borg El-Arab on Friday

Tarek Hamed (C) and Moustafa Fathi (C-L) of Egypt’s Zamalek club fight for the ball with Anaezemba Nzube (R) of Nigeria’s Enyimba FC during the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League match at Petro Sport stadium in Cairo on August 15, 2016. (AFP)

Egypt's Zamalek are set to host Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semifinals at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Friday.

Zamalek, who are chasing their first Champions League title since 2002, have reached the Champions League semis after placing second in Group B while Morocco's Wydad booked their place after topping Group A.

The Cairo giants Zamalek will have to cope without a natural left-back against Wydad as Ali Fathi has been ruled out of both legs.

"The player is suffering from the inflammation of a knee tendon," Zamalek doctor Mostafa El-Monayeri said ahead of the game.

"It's thus unlikely for him to feature in both legs of the semi-finals, but whether he would be able to play in the final – should Zamalek reach the stage – remains to be seen."

The dilemma arose as a result of Zamalek offloading left-back Mohamed Adel Gomaa and converting centre-back Hamada Tolba, who departed for Ismaily and Masry respectively in the close season.

Zamalek coach Moemen Soliman will depend on the new signing of Nigerian striker Stanley Ohawuchi when he faces Wydad on Friday after his impressive performance during the team's preparations for the game.

"The game against Wydad will be difficult but I am confident of my players' ability to snatch the victory," Soliman told reporters.

"I asked the players to secure a place in the Champions League final when they host Wydad in Cairo and not to wait until the second leg in Morocco,"

Zamalek football director Mohamed Salah confirmed, explaining that the technical staff studied the Wydad squad properly ahead of the two sides' game.

"We are working to achieve a positive result on Friday to ease our mission in the second leg in Morocco," Salah told reporters ahead of the game.

"We studied the Wydad team well and recognised the weak points in their squad – I’m also confident of my players' ability to achieve the target and reach the final from Cairo."

Zamalek will get a boost from fans during the game as the interior ministry has allowed up to 10, 000 supporters for this crucial match.

Zamalek assistant coach Alaa Abdel-Ghany is counting on the attendance of fans that he hopes will help the players to achieve the target at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium.

"Zamalek have only one target -- that is to defeat Wydad before the second leg in Morocco," Abdel-Ghany said.

"Fans' attendance will motivate the players to fight for the win."

On the other side, Wydad coach John Toshack revealed that his squad is fit for the game and they intend to return to Morocco with a positive result.

"Wydad's squad has more talented players who can threaten Zamalek's defence and score to secure a place in the CAF Champions League final," Toshack told reporters when he arrived at Borg El-Arab stadium.

"I hope to represent Africa in the new edition of the Clubs World Cup," the Wydad tactician concluded.

Wydad will host Zamalek in the second leg of the CAF Champions League semifinals on 24 September.

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