Zamalek coach Patrice Carteron (Photo: Zamalek's official website)
Zamalek's win over archrivals Ahly in Saturday's Cairo derby is a precious and different one according to French coach Patrice Carteron, who also insisted that the Whites will not give up competing for the Egyptian Premier League title.
Zamalek defeated Ahly 3-1 to claim a derby win in the league for only the third time in the last 15 years.
"We secured a precious win over a big team. Everyone knows how the Cairo derby is always a strong one," the 50-year-old coach said in the press conference after the match.
After almost three months in charge, Carteron led Zamalek to win two titles in just a week last February after winning their fourth CAF Super Cup at the expense of African Champions Espérance de Tunis, before winning the Egyptian Super Cup after defeating Ahly 4-3 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in Abu Dhabi.
"This time is different from the Super Cup match in which Zamalek players were exhausted but won on penalties. Today the victory was a deserved one especially as our fitness was the best," explained the coach, who signed a one-year contract extension with Zamalek last May.
Despite Saturday's loss, Ahly remain at the top of the table with 56 points from 21 matches, enjoying a comfortable 14-point lead over second-placed Zamalek.
Carteron is still optimistic about his team chances to compete for the league title this season despite the wide gap with 13 matches to spare.
"We won't give up competing for the league title, but we should be realistic that we are currently competing for second place. We will fight until the end and we are fully fit for the coming period," he added.
Both sides clashed on Saturday with an eye on the Champions League semis, where Ahly will meet Wydad and Zamalek will take on Moroccan side Raja in the semi-finals next month.
Zamalek finished the game with 10 men after experienced left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafi sustained what looked a serious arm injury, having made four substitutions in a maximum of three slots.
"The injury is a difficult one. I am not satisfied with what happened with such an important player and I prefer not to talk anymore about the player, who could be sidelined for a long time," he concluded.
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