File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Zamalek and Pyramids (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Zamalek and Pyramids meet in a potentially decisive clash in the Egyptian Premier League on Thursday, with the last African Champions League spot at stake after Ahly had all but secured the domestic league title.
Both sides are level on 45 points in an increasingly exciting race to finish second behind Ahly, who look set to win a fifth consecutive title as they enjoy a staggering 17-point lead on top.
But Zamalek are actually behind Pyramids in the race, given that they will be deducted three points at the end of the season for failing to show up for a Cairo derby meeting with Ahly in February.
Should Pyramids overcome Zamalek, they will practically be six points ahead of the White Knights with 10 matches remaining. Even so, Zamalek would still have a backdoor route to the Champions League.
The Cairo giants face Morocco's Raja in a two-legged Champions League semi-final this month and they will be guaranteed a place in Africa's blue-riband competition next season regardless of their league position if they win the title.
While Zamalek have had a stuttering run of late, which included a surprise defeat by Arab Contractors sandwiched between wins over leaders Ahly and Enppi, Pyramids have won their past three matches.
Both sides will play without their top performers, with Pyramids missing key playmaker Abdallah El-Said through injury and Zamalek missing midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed due to automatic suspension.
"I'm disappointed to lose Hamed for the Pyramids game, but I have other players who can make up for his absence," Zamalek's French coach Patrice Carteron said.
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