Preview: Zamalek without midfield linchpin for Mahalla game

Ahram Online , Friday 24 Dec 2021

Zamalek will have to do without key defensive midfielder Tarek Hamed when they meet Ghazl El-Mahalla in the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday as they eye a third straight win to close the gap on leaders Ahly.

 Tarek Hamed
File photo of Zamalek midfielder Tarek Hamed (Ahram)

Hamed, 33, has been Zamalek's best performer over the past five years, with his consistent and solid displays in the heart of midfield making him a fan darling.

Zamalek fans have launched an online campaign to support Hamed after he was surprisingly left out of Egypt's preliminary squad for the African Cup of Nations, although he has been a regular member of the Pharaohs' roster in recent years.

He was one of the standout players when Zamalek claimed a narrow 2-1 victory over Arab Contractors on Tuesday but earned a yellow card that has ruled him out of the Mahalla game due to automatic suspension.

However, coach Patrice Carteron is confident he can make up for his absence, as well as that of striker Omar El-Said, who is also suspended but is likely to be replaced by Tunisian forward Seifeddine Jaziri.

Jaziri and several other Egyptian internationals, including left-back Ahmed Fattouh and winger Ahmed Zizo, were rested for the Arab Contractors game due to their Arab Cup exertions.

"We have our replacements ready, especially that we will have our internationals back," French boss Carteron said.

Mahalla caused a shock by beating Zamalek 2-1 last term but the Cairo club avenged that defeat with a 3-0 victory in the latter stages of the season.

Nicknamed The Peasants, Mahalla sit eighth in the table after collecting 10 points from their opening seven matches. Zamalek are third on 16 points, two behind bitter rivals Ahly, who have a game in hand. 

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