Preview: Zamalek looks to maintain lead in African Champions League in game against USMA

Eslam Omar , Wednesday 21 Jun 2017

File photo: 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)

Zamalek will face USMA in an away game in Algeria on Wednesday in their fourth game of the African Champions group stage.

Both sides will be looking to reach the group B summit, with Zamalek in the lead with five points, only one point ahead of the Algerian side.

The Egyptians hosted their rivals two weeks ago in Alexandria and secured a late 1-1 draw, with their coach Augusto Inacio saying he believes they will perform better in the away game.

"We will play to win. I trust my squad and I will pick the players who are ready. We prepared very well for this game," Inacio said at the pre-match press conference on Monday.

The Cairo giants made a fine start to their bid, beating Zimbabwe’s Caps United 2-0 at home before settling for a 0-0 draw with Ahly Tripoli in Tunisia before the home draw with USMA.

The USMA game has been delayed for one hour, and will be held at 11pm Algeria time (12pm in Egypt) as per a request by Zamalek.

"The [Muslim] players will be fasting before the game, so the delay will give us enough time for preparation," said Zamalek vice president Ahmed Galal, who is leading the delegation to Algeria.

Zamalek held a final training session on Tuesday on 5 July at the stadium in Algeria, where the coach focused on tactical preparation.

The White Knights are missing key players in the game, as Inacio’s favoured playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim is suffering from shingles, while Ayman Hefni was dropped from the squad for “technical reasons.”

Zamalek are showing confidence despite their expectation that they will face heavy pressure from the opponents' crowd.

"We won't be affected by the crowd at all. Zamalek players are experienced enough to face such pressure," says Zamalek midfielder Ibrahim Salah.

"We are in Algeria to win," the player concluded.

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