Preview: Bencharki, Zamalek's primary source of creativity, back for Masry clash

Ahram Online , Wednesday 27 Apr 2022

Zamalek, who struggled for openings in their previous two games in the Egyptian Premier League, welcome back key winger Achraf Bencharki as they meet Masry in a tough clash on Thursday.

Achraf Bencharki

 

The Moroccan international missed the dull 0-0 draw with Pharco and the laboured 2-0 victory over Ittihad of Alexandria due to automatic suspension, having picked up a straight red card in a 1-0 win over Maqassa earlier this month.

Although Bencharki's form has faded this season, he remains Zamalek's primary source of creativity. Even when not at his best, the 27-year-old has scored four goals and provided as many assist in the team's opening 11 league games of the season.

His absence was sorely missed as leaders Zamalek found it hard to create clear-cut chances against Pharco and Ittihad.

Bencharki, who was instrumental in Zamalek's triumphant league campaign last term, drew the fans' ire after failing to commit to a new deal, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.

However, coach Jesualdo Ferreira is aware of his importance as the team chase a second straight league crown and they can hardly afford to drop more points, with perennial Cairo rivals Ahly hot on their heels.

Although Zamalek have a three-point lead over second-placed Ahly, the Red Devils have three matches in hand, which can move them five points clear at the summit.

Although Masry are dejected following their loss to Morocco's RS Berkane on the away-goal rule after a 2-2 aggregate draw in the African Confederation Cup quarters, they will provide one of the stiffest tests to Zamalek this season.

They handed Ahly their first defeat this season with a surprise 1-0 victory earlier this month, having proven the better side throughout after producing a bold, attacking display.

Masry, who are managed by Tunisian coach Moine Chaabani, lie ninth in the league table with 19 points from 13 games.

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