Zamalek’s French coach Patrice Carteron said he knows his recent return for a second stint at the Cairo club was not welcomed by some fans. However, he stressed that winning the League and the African Champions League titles is his priority this season.
“I am happy with my return to Zamalek. I came back to win more trophies with the club,” the coach said in an interview with Zamalek’s TV channel late on Friday.
Zamalek's interim board announced late on Thursday the signing of Carteron just a few months after his shocking departure to join Saudi Arabia's team Al-Taawon.
The 50-year-old will replace Portuguese coach Jaime Pacheco, who was dismissed after leaders Zamalek defeated Ceramica Cleopatra 2-0 at the Egyptian Premier League, extending their lead over Ahly to six points although the latter still have three games in hand.
The management's decision to rehire Carteron stirred heated controversy on social media, especially among some fans and club icons,mainly because the coach had suddenly left the club at a crucial time, just one month ahead of the African Champions League semi-final.
“I know that some fans are happy with my return and others are not, but I feel that I owe this club a lot. I am here to win trophies and please fans,” said Carteron who signed an 18-month contract with Zamalek.
“I rejoined Zamalek at a lower salary than Al-Taawon's, but I couldn’t disregard Zamalek’s call while seeing the club in a crisis.
“Zamalek is a big club. A lot of people come and go and the club is the remaining fact. There have recently been a lot of problems and instability and now is the time to restore calm and concentrate only on wins and titles,” added Carteron.
Carteron will start his mission with Zamalek on Tuesday at the crucial showdown against Esperance of Tunisia in the fourth round of the African Champions' League group stage.
Zamalek has no other choice but to win to march on in the prestigious continental tournament, especially after their poor start in the group stage, which saw them collect two points only from their first three matches.
“The players don’t have the same previous spirit that we had before. That spirit was the secret behind our successes. Also, the departure of key striker Mostafa Mohamed affected the team negatively but my target is to restore the winning spirit,” Carteron said.
“Esperance is a big team and we should respect them. I believe that Zamalek lost the last game because of the absence of the winning spirit. They are superior on the physical level, not the technical one.
“Zamalek’s chances to qualify for the next round are still alive. I know it will be difficult because we need to secure three victories, but I accepted the challenge especially as I owe a lot to club fans,” he added.
Carteron made a fine impact in his previous stint at the helm as he won over the fans after leading Zamalek to the Egyptian Super Cup and African Super Cup titles last season while also steering them to a place at the Champions League semis. In total, he won 19 games, drew in nine, and lost three during his nine-month tenure.
Zamalek currently lead the Egyptian Premier League table with 33 points from 14 matches, six points ahead of holders and arch rivals Ahly.
“The team is temporarily leading the League table. I came here to compete for both the League and Champions League title," he concluded.
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