Preview: Troubled Zamalek aim to kick off the Arab Cup with a win over Tunisia’s Monastir

Ahram Online , Thursday 27 Jul 2023

Zamalek will look to bounce back from a tumultuous season and begin their King Salman's Clubs Cup - the Arab Cup - campaign with a win against Tunisia's US Monastir on Friday.

Zamalek Midfielder Shikabala
File Photo: Zamalek Midfielder Shikabala in fights to control the ball during the match with Future on 8 July, 2023. Photo courtesy of Zamalek.

 

The Cairo giants ended their catastrophic season on a sour note with a 4-1 loss to archrivals Ahly, followed by a disappointing 2-2 draw with Pharco FC in the final round of the Egyptian Premier League, securing a third-place finish with 60 points and a place in next season's CAF Confederations Cup.

Zamalek have been plagued by administrative and financial troubles, as they are currently banned from registering new players due to Benjamin Acheampong's overdue fees and FIFA's fine over the signing of Mahmoud "Shikabala" Abdel-Razek from Portuguese side Sporting CP.

As a result, Zamalek will travel to Saudi Arabia without any reinforcement to their squad.

Nevertheless, the White Knights' Colombian coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, has promised to compete for the tournament's title. "We are looking forward to competing for the Arab Cup title," Osorio said during a pre-game press conference on Thursday.

Zamalek have been drawn in Group C alongside Tunisian side US Monastir, Saudi Arabia's Al-Shabab, and Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nasr, whom they will face on Monday and Thursday, respectively.

They are Egypt's only representatives in the tournament after Ahly withdrew, and Talae El-Gaish were knocked out in the playoff round by Ittihad of Libya.

Zamalek have a rich history in the Arab Cup, having participated in seven previous editions of the tournament. Over the course of those competitions, the Cairo giants played a total of 57 games, winning 27, losing 14, and drawing 16. Their most successful campaign in the tournament came in 2003, when they were crowned champions.

The tournament winner will receive $6 million in prize money.

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