Preview: Stuttering Zamalek under watchful eye of new manager Inacio

Ahram Online , Tuesday 4 Apr 2017

Augusto Inacio
Zamalek's new coach Augusto Inacio (R) and chairman Mortada Mansour (Photo: the club's official Facebook page)

Zamalek players will be keen to impress new manager Augusto Inacio and lift the team out of its ongoing crisis when they meet bottom side Sharqeya in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday.

Back-to-back defeats under former coach Mohamed Helmi dealt a severe blow to Zamalek's chances of wrestling the title back from defending champions Ahly, who are now 15 points clear of their Cairo rivals on top.

Zamalek still have a game in hand on their nemesis but a win is unlikely to boost their chances of competing for the title, with Ahly looking formidable in the premier domestic competition.

On paper, Zamalek boast a star-studded squad but their talented players failed to impress this term, apparently suffering from repeated changes in the backroom staff.

Helmi, who only managed to help them beat Ahly on penalties to win the Egypt Super Cup last in February, was their third coach this season as outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour continued his hire and fire policy that was largely blamed by pundits for the team's stuttering form.

Inacio, who led Sporting to the Portuguese league title in 2000, was brought in to replace Helmi but he will not be in charge against Sharqeya, with Mohamed Salah taking the reins on a temporary basis.

Chairman Mansour, as he always does, vowed not to interfere in Inacio's work.

"You are totally free to choose the players you need and make your own selection," he told Inacio upon his arrival in Cairo on Tuesday.

"You will have the final word over who should play and who should not."

Zamalek will be desperate to get back to winning ways as they risk missing out on a place in the African Champions League, a competition they came within touching distance of winning last year, only to lose to South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 on aggregate in a two-legged final.

They are 11 points behind second-placed Maqassa, the league's dark horses who played two matches more than Zamalek.

The White Knights, despite their current disappointing form, should not find it difficult to brush aside Sharqeya, who lie at the bottom with 11 points from 21 matches, five adrift of safety.

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