Preview: Stuttering Zamalek aim to bounce back against Smouha amid row with refs

Karim Farouk , Thursday 19 Oct 2017

Zamalek playmaker Ayman Hefni (Photo: Ahram)

Zamalek are looking to overcome their poor start of the season and a turbulent week following a row with referees in order to get back to winning ways when they take on fifth-placed Smouha on Friday in a much contested test.

The Whites have been held to draws over the past few weeks by Enppi 0-0 and Tanta 1-1 to drop at the 4th place of the table with 9 points after 5 games.

The draw against Tanta sparked a lot of controversy as the game was full of incidents, especially after the hosts seemed to have been awarded two dubious penalties that allowed them to claim a point out of this game.

Zamalek president Mortada Mansour launched a staunch attack on referees saying they conspire against his team and that he wants foreign referees for their games.

Head of referees committee Essam Abdel-Fattah hit back, saying that his referees do not want to officiate Zamalek games as they feel intimidated.

However Zamalek vice-president Ahmed Galal backtracked on Mansour's position, saying that they have full confidence in Egyptian referees and just hope mistakes will be reduced to a minimum, especially after implementing the five-referee system in domestic competition.

The Cairo giants are not expecting a walk in the park against the Alexandrian side, who hope to move up the ladder especially after spending millions of pounds this summer and having hired Croatian tactician Frantisek Straka to meet the club's expectations.

Straka can rely on Burkina Faso internationals Patrick Malo and Banou Diawara, who missed the past game against Petrojet 0-0, as they were back late from their international duties.

Zamalek coach Nebojsa Jovovic would welcome back Congolese striker Kabongo Kasongo and right-back Hazem Emam - who missed last game due to injuries – and Ayman Hefni, the gifted playmaker who has been a source of inspiration over the past few years.

The 31-year old Hefni has been out for months struggling with injuries since the end of last season. A pacy and skilful dribbler who can send exquisite passes to break through the rivals' defence, Hefni may provide the creativity much needed upfront.

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