Zamalek woes continue as Tunisia’s Esperance claim full-mark in CAF Champions League

Mahmoud Elassal , Saturday 25 Feb 2023

Zamalek extended their winless run in the CAF Champions League group stage after losing to Esperance of Tunisia 2-0 in the third round of Group D games at Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi on Saturday.

Zamalek Midfielder Dounga in action during the match between Esperance and Zamalek on Saturday 25 February, 2023. Photo courtesy of Zamalek Twitter account.


Esperance striker Ben Hammouda scored the first goal 10 minutes before the break when he found the ball inside area and sent it into the net.

Talented midfielder Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane scored the second goal during injury time a few minutes before the final whistle to finish the game 2-0 for hosts Esperance.

Esperance are in the driving seat of Group D with a full mark of nine points, while Zamalek are in the tail of the group with only one point.

Al Merreikh of Sudan are second on the table with four points after beating third placed Algeria’s Belouizdad on Friday.

The Cairo giants have no option except winning in the remaining three games in the group stage to keep their hopes of reaching the quarterfinal alive.

Zamalek winger Ahmed ‘Zizo’ Sayed stroke a brilliant shot from outside the area, but goalie Moez Ben Cherifia delivered it to a corner kick only three minutes from the start.

Esperance were close to snatching an early lead 14 minutes from the start when the ball was sent to the area from a free kick by Anice Badri to striker Mohamed Ali Ben Hammouda who shot it to the net, but Zamalek’s cemented defence suspended his efforts with goalkeeper Mohamed Awad grasping the unmarked ball.

Esperance striker Ben Hammouda scored the lead goal 10 minutes before the break as he found the ball inside the area and stroke it to find the nets.

Zamalek’s keeper failed to suspend a wide ball from right back Anice Badri, so Ben Hammouda made use of an easy scoring chance to make it a 1-0 lead for the hosts.

Visitors Zamalek started the second half with a pressure over Esperance in a step to find the equaliser, but the hosts’ defence suspended their efforts.

Zamalek coach Ferreira called only one of newly signed players Ahmed Belhadji to boost his midfield.

The Tunisian team seemed to depend their tactics on the counterattack ball as they kept the ball in ground, waiting for a mistake from their foes to double the score.

As expected, Esperance made use of the counterattack when Ben Romdhane received a low wide pass from substitute Rached Arfaoui in the second minute of injury time to secure the victory for the hosts.

Struggling on and off the pitch

The five-time African Champions, Zamalek have been struggling on and off the pitch this season, claiming only two wins in twelve games in all competitions since the start of 2023.

They opened their campaign in the group stage with a 1-0 loss to Algeria’s Belouizdad at home then tied with Al Merreikh of Sudan away.

Moreover, Egypt's Court of Cassation has upheld a one-month prison sentence against Zamalek’s chairman Mortada Mansour for defaming Mahmoud Al-Khatib, the president of the Whites’ bitter Cairo rivals Ahly.

Zamalek will host Esperance in the fourth round of Group D games on Tuesday 7 March at Cairo International Stadium.

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