Zamalek coach Patrice Carteron said he has much work to do to lift the morale of his players, admitting that he took the reins at a "difficult time" as the team face possible elimination from the African Champions League.
Carteron was surprisingly brought back by Zamalek's interim board earlier this month despite abruptly leaving them at a crucial stage of last season in September 2020.
He replaced Portuguese Jaime Pacheco, under whom Zamalek topped the domestic league but stuttered in the Champions League, collecting only two points from their first three group-stage games.
Carteron's first match in his second stint ended in equally dismal fashion, with Zamalek suffering a 1-0 home defeat by Tunisia's Esperance that dealt a huge blow to their chances of reaching the Champions League quarters.
"I took charge at a difficult time and the players' morale was really low," the Frenchman told Zamalek's official website.
"Since my arrival, I have been working on raising the players' morale and improving their fitness. My target is to make them enjoy their football again."
The loss against Esperance left Zamalek with an uphill climb as they lie third in Group D with two points, five behind MC Alger and eight adrift of leaders Esperance, who had already secured passage to the last eight.
Zamalek must beat MC Alger and bottom side Teungueth of Senegal in their final two games and hope MC Alger lose away to Esperance to qualify.
"I didn't have enough time to work with the players as I arrived only two days before the Esperance game," Carteron added.
"Results were not good in the Champions League. I tried to motivate the players but our display against Esperance was below-par."
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