Zamalek coach Patrice Carteron (Photo: Zamalek's official website)
Zamalek coach Patrice Carteron heavily criticized the recent decision by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to postpone the African Champions League semi final matches, calling his players as 'champions' for playing multiple matches in a limited time recently.
"Zamalek players are champions. They played 11 matches in 37 days. It is the only team in the world that played that number of games in such a short time," Carteron said in the press conference after Sunday's 1-0 league victory over Entag El-Harby.
"I am very proud of this group of players. They are the same group that won the Egyptian Super Cup, the African Super Cup and also reached the Champions League semi final," he added.
On Thursday, the CAF postponed the final stages of its inter-clubs competitions, the African Champions League and the Confederation Cup to be held in October instead of its initially scheduled date at the end of September.
Egypt has three teams participating in the anticipated semis; Zamalek is scheduled to face Morocco's Rajaa Casablanca and Ahly will be facing Morocco's Wydad Casablanca in the African Champions League, while Pyramids FC will face Guinea’s Horoya in the Confederation cup.
The first leg matches of Ahly and Zamalek Champions League semis were originally scheduled to be played in Morocco on 25 and 26 September, and the second leg matches to be hosted by Cairo on 2 and 3 October, while the final match was supposed to take place on 16 or 17 October.
The CAF Executive Committee decided to postpone the semis of the continental tournaments amid fears of the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Morocco.
Zamalek and Pyramids FC rejected the postponement of their games during the latest CAF meeting held remotely online last week, as the Whites suggested the games should be played in Egypt if Morocco was out of the question.
"We were the ones who most needed the postponement, but we didn't ask for it, so I would like to thank the teams that did so," the French coach said about the Champions league semis.
"I don't know if they were afraid. I hoped to play the remaining matches in one country with a single-leg knock-out format like what was did in the UEFA Champions League."
"I am very upset of the postponement especially as the winter transfer market has closed and it was better to continue the tournament in this season not the coming one. If there is a problem in Morocco the matches can be moved to other place," he concluded.
According to the new dates, the first leg matches of the African Champions League semifinals are rescheduled for 17 and 18 October, and the second leg matches will be played on 23 and 24 October. The final game has been set for 6 November.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)