Preview: Egypt's Ismaily start 'Group of Death' against Mazembe

Ahram Online , Friday 11 Jan 2019

Ismaily face Mazembe away from home on Saturday at 15:00 Cairo time (13:00 GMT)

File photo of Ismaily (Ahram)

Egypt's Ismaily start their "Group of Death" campaign in the African Champions League with a mouthwatering clash away to five-time winners TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.

Ismaily, who are making their first appearance in Africa's flagship club competition in eight years, are hopeful they can cause an upset and qualify from a group that also includes Tunisian giants Club Africain and Algeria's CS Constantine.

They have struggled in the first half of the season in the Egyptian Premier League, dropping to third from bottom after a series of poor results.

However, the arrival of Macedonian coach Cedomir Janevski and the several signings they made for January gave their fans some hope that the team can turn around their fortunes in the second half of the season.

Ismaily have beefed up their frontline by signings three forwards in Nigerian Onoriode Odah, Tanzanian international Zayd Yahya and Namibian Benson Shilongo.

"I'm gonna do my best to make the team better," Janevski said in English in a video directed to Ismaily's fans to wish them a happy new year.

A positive result against Mazembe in Lubumbashi could be an indication that Ismaily can indeed enjoy a happy new year.

Mazembe's track record in the competition suggests that they can easily brush aside Ismaily though. 

They won the Champions League five times, three short of record winners Ahly of Egypt, with the last being in 2015. They also won the Confederation Cup, Africa's secondary club competition, twice in a row in 2016 and 2017.

Ismaily were the first Egyptian side to win the old version of the Champions League in 1969. They also reached the final in 2003 when they lost to Nigeria's Enyimba.

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