Preview: Zamalek's domestic woes give Champions League added importance

Ahram Online , Friday 27 Dec 2019

Egypt's Zamalek face Zambian side Zesco in their second Group A match of the African Champions away from home in an afternoon kick off on Saturday


Zamalek's struggles in the Egyptian Premier League gives an added importance to their African Champions League campaign as they face Zambia's Zesco United away from home in their third Group A game on Saturday.

With the White Knights losing realistic hopes of competing for the league title, having fallen nine points behind leaders Ahly, who also have a game in hand, they can now turn their attention to another major piece of silverware -- the Champions League.

Zamalek, who have not won Africa's premier club competition since lifting the last of their five trophies in 2002, kicked off their group stage campaign with an embarrassing 3-0 loss at DR Congo's TP Mazembe, which led to the sacking of former manager Micho.

The Serbian's successor, Frenchman Patrice Carteron, presided over a convincing 2-0 home victory over Angola's Primeiro de Agosto in the second match, which lifted them to second place.

However, Zamalek endured a three-match winless run in the Egyptian league, putting early pressure on Carteron, a Champions League winner with Mazembe in 2015 who also led Ahly to a place in the final in 2018.

"We know how to separate our domestic campaign from the Champions League," Carteron told a news conference previewing the away game against Zesco, who lie third with a solitary point.

"We came to Zambia to win and secure all the three points … I'm used to playing under pressure at big teams, and I'm aware that we need to win to regain our balance despite the hectic schedule of games."

Zamalek will once again have to play without an established right-back due to the injury of skipper Hazem Emam, who took Hamdi Nagguez's place after the Tunisian unilaterally terminated his contract with the club.

Left-back Abdallah Gomaa is also out, with the veteran Mohamed Abdel-Shafi likely to replace him.

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