Preview: Zamalek face Ittihad with an eye on leading duo

Hatem Maher, Sunday 15 Jan 2012

Zamalek should beat Ittihad of Alexandria in Sunday’s league tie if they are to stay in touch with leading duo Ahly and Harras El-Hodoud

Zamalek fans

Zamalek will be seeking to keep it a three-way tie at the top of the Egyptian Premier League when they visit Alexandria to face Ittihad on Sunday.

Surprise leaders Harras El-Hodoud and defending champions Ahly kept the pressure on third-placed Zamalek after recording convincing victories over Petrojet and Smouha respectively on Saturday.

Military club El-Hodoud, who are on an impressive run of 10 consecutive wins, have 31 points, one ahead of Ahly. Zamalek, third on 26 points, should overcome Ittihad to cut the deficit and stay in touch with the leading duo.

The club’s new board of directors, led by wealthy chairman Mamdouh Abbas, is busy trying to bolster the team’s squad in the ongoing January transfer window.

The success-starved outfit, who are eyeing their first league triumph since 2004, have already strengthened their midfield with the signing of Islam Awad from ENPPI and Nour El-Sayed from Gouna.

They are also close to finalizing a deal to land Club Africain’s Cameroonian midfielder Alexis Mendomo.

“I’ve fulfilled a dream to join Zamalek,” Awad, who earned his Egypt debut under the guidance of current Zamalek manager Hassan Shehata, said in an interview with the club’s official website.

“I hope I can be a valuable addition to help the team return to winning ways and win trophies.”

The new signings will not be able to play against the inconsistent Ittihad, who have at times displayed pretty football since Spanish coach Jose Maqueda took over last summer.

Zamalek will have to do without regular right-back Omar Gaber, who dislocated his shoulder during the narrow 1-0 win over Gouna, and central defender Mahmoud Fathallah, who picked up a groin injury.

Salah Soliman, who has just returned from injury, is expected to deputize for Fathallah and partner Hani Saied in the heart of Zamalek’s defence.

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