Patrice Carteron (Photo: Reuters)
Just a few months after his shock departure, French coach Patrice Carteron has returned to Zamalek for a second stint, the club said in a statement late on Thursday.
Carteron, who left Saudi Arabia's Al-Taawon by mutual consent, replaces Portuguese coach Jaime Pacheco, who was dismissed right after leaders Zamalek defeated Ceramica Cleopatra 2-0 in the Egyptian Premier League to extend their lead over Ahly to six points, although the latter still have three games in hand.
Several Zamalek players posted messages of well wishes to the bald-headed boss on their social media accounts, including Moroccan forward Achraf Bencharki and winger Ahmed Zizo.
Zamalek's interim board did not clarify the reasons for firing Pacheco but reports said he had paid the price for a poor start to the team's African Champions League group-stage campaign, which saw them collect just two points from their first three matches.
Although Carteron made a fine impact in his previous stint at the helm, his fresh appointment prompted a social media backlash from Zamalek's supporters, who felt betrayed by the 50-year-old.
Carteron won over the fans after leading Zamalek to the Egyptian Super Cup and African Super Cup titles last season and steering them to a place in the Champions League semis. In total, he won 19 games, drew nine and lost only three in all competitions during his nine-month tenure.
However, he dropped a bombshell in September 2020 after abruptly annulling his Zamalek deal to join Saudi Arabia's Al-Taawon.
He departed at a critical time in the season as Zamalek were gearing up for a semi-final clash against Morocco's Raja in the Champions League. Under Pacheco, the White Knights defeated Raja but suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Ahly in the final after conceding a late goal.
Carteron's brief spell in charge of Al-Taawoun saw him lead the club in 27 games; winning 11, drawing eight and losing eight.
Zamalek's interim board will hope his return can revive their fortunes in the Champions League. Carteron's first match in charge will be a vital meeting at home to Tunisia's Esperance next week.
Carteron led Zamalek to wins over Esperance in the African Super Cup and Champions League quarters last season.