Preview: Zamalek out to mount fresh assault on Champions League title

Ahram Online , Friday 11 Feb 2022

Zamalek will be hoping to send out a statement of intent when they kick off their African Champions League group-stage campaign at home to Angola's Petro Atletico on Saturday.


The Cairo giants are yearning for a sixth Champions League accolade, with the coveted title having proven elusive since the team were last crowned champions in 2002.

Zamalek came close in 2020, only to suffer a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to bitter Cairo rivals Ahly in a match that was dubbed the "Derby of the Century".

The team endured a disappointing campaign last year though, finishing third in their group behind leaders Esperance and MC Alger.

"We enter the competition with one target, which is to win the title," Zamalek's French coach Patrice Carteron, who left the team in an acrimonious manner just before they met Ahly in the 2020 final, told the pre-match news conference.

"It's a very important competition that we lost in a painful manner in 2020 and which we exited early last year.

"The kick-off is very important so we have to get a positive result," added Carteron, who led Zamalek to their first Egyptian Premier League title in six years last season.

Zamalek return to competitive action after a lengthy break, although their second-string side suffered a group-stage exit at the inaugural EFA Cup early this month -- a third-tier domestic competition that was played during the African Cup of Nations.

The White Knights last met Petro Atletico in the group stage of the African Confederation Cup in 2019, drawing 1-1 at home before winning 1-0 on the road. They went on to win the continent's secondary club competition for the first time.

Zamalek will have to do without midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed, who is out through injury.

"Tarek is one of the best players in cutting off balls … he is getting better and he will be back soon," Carteron added.

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