Zamalek’s French boss Patrice Carteron has stressed that the team have to win each and every upcoming game, especially the next CAF Champions League game against Primero de Agosto, as well as defending his choice not to hire a fitness coach for the team in the meantime.
Zamalek will visit Angola's Primero de Agosto in the final round of the group stage of the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Champions League on Saturday, having already qualifying for the quarterfinals after the end of the group stage's fifth round.
"Despite qualifying for the quarterfinals, Primero de Agosto's game is very important to prepare the players for the CAF Super Cup and for the upcoming games," Carteron told a pre-game press conference on Friday.
"I won't accept any recklessness from the players until we win the tournament. We must work hard as players and technical staff," he added.
The White Knights, the Confederation Cup champions, are supposed to fly off to Qatar to face Tunisian CAF Champions League winners Esperance on 14 February.
"Zamalek have to win all their games after the TP Mazembe match, but the Wadi Degla game saw a lack of spirit, which I handled psychologically with the players after the match," the former Ahly coach explained.
The Whites' last two games ended in draws; the first was against DR Congo's TP Mazembe in the fifth round of the CAF Champions League, and the second was against Wadi Degla in the Egyptian Premier League.
The Angola trip will be the first time Zamalek’s veteran goalie Mahmoud “Gennish” Abdel Rehim will be included in the squad list after recovering from an injury he picked during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations last summer.
"I'm happy to see Gennish return. He's one of the team’s icons, and one of the best goalkeepers in Egypt. He will be an addition for us," said Raja Casablanca, former coach.
Carteron has faced criticism for not hiring a new fitness coach after the departure of the previous coach, which has impacted the players and might have resulted in many injuries.
"Why is there always talk about the fitness coach once the team ties or loses? It was possible in the beginning of the season, but now the team plays a game every four days so we don't need a fitness coach," said Carteron.
"Any new fitness coach joining the team now will confuse the team. Zamalek possess physical analysis devices that put the team in a good physical condition; we just need high spirit. Each game should be played as a final," he added.
Zamalek are now in fifth place in the Egyptian Premier League standings with 25 points after 13 matches, and qualified for the CAF Champions League quarterfinals in second place on eight points, behind TP Mazembe.
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