Outgoing Zamalek manager Mohamed Helmi will be hoping to leave his post on a high note and guide the club to victory at rivals Smouha in the Egyptian league on Saturday.
With the Smouha fixture being his last game in charge after chairman Mortada Mansour announced that Zamalek will part ways with their manager a week ago, the 54-year-old Helmi will be looking to bag all three points as his second spell in charge comes to an end.
The game has been preceded by tumultuous incidents ever since the controversy that marred Zamalek’s league game with Maqassa, where the referee blatantly denied the Cairo giants a legitimate penalty following a handball by an opposition defender inside the area.
A fuming Mansour then threatened to forfeit the league if the game was not played again, with the Egyptian FA making it clear that a replay is unlikely to happen.
Even so, the Zamalek first-team and management travelled to Alexandria for their upcoming Smouha clash, an indication that Mansour could well backtrack on his threat to forfeit the league.
In the midst of such conditions, a third-placed Zamalek enter the game against the Alexandrians – who are only three points adrift of their Cairo-based opponents in fifth place on 37 points.
Zamalek should also be keen to put in a convincing performance ahead of the arrival of incoming Portuguese manager Augusto Inacio, who should arrive on Saturday to finalize contract-talks with club officials.
Smouha, on the other hand, will be determined to get back on track after losing five points in their last two league games.
After leading his side to the Confederation Cup second-round following a 4-3 aggregate win over Kenya’s Ulinzi Stars, ex-Zamalek manager Moemen Soliman will be looking to build on his African progress.
He will be doing without defender Ahmed Dwidar, on-loan from Zamalek, and ex-Ahly striker Ahmed Raouf who have been ruled out of the game by their manager.
Zamalek, meanwhile, will be missing the services of first-choice keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi and Shikabala due to fitness reasons. Emmanuel Mayuka, Ibrahim Salah, full-back duo Mohamed Nassef and Hosni Fathi were all similarly left out.
The Whites, who are looking to dethrone defending league champions and leaders Ahly, are 12 points behind their arch-rivals who played a game more.
Ahly aim to cement position on top
A high-flying Ahly side will be aiming to cement their position on top of the table with a win over 15th-placed Dakhleya when both sides meet at El-Salam Stadium later on the day.
Hossam El-Badry’s men should find no problem beating their unfancied rivals who have yet to claim a league victory since the turn of the year.
Veteran striker Emad Meteb alongside Tunisia left-back Ali Maaloul and Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi will be missing the game due to different reasons.
Meanwhile, new-signings Ahmed Hamoudi and Souleymane Coulibaly alongside Egypt right-back Ahmed Fathi all made the squad.
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