Preview: Zamalek seek repeat in Confederation Cup final rematch with RS Berkane

Ahram Online , Saturday 11 May 2024

Egyptian giants Zamalek are determined to secure an early advantage as they face RS Berkane of Morocco in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final on Sunday, ahead of a return leg in Cairo a week later.

Zamalek v RS Berkane
Zamalek's winger Ahmed "Zizo" Sayed is following RS Berkane's player during the CAF Confederation Cup final in 2019. Photo: Al-Ahram Gate.

 

The showdown marks a rematch of the 2019 final, in which both teams won 1-0 at home, with Zamalek emerging victorious 5-3 in a penalty shootout.

Zamalek's path to the final saw them deliver an impressive 3-0 victory over Dreams FC of Ghana in the second leg of the semi-finals, following a goalless draw in Egypt.

Despite struggling domestically, the Cairo giants are eager to turn their fortunes around and end their season with silverware, aiming to clinch the Confederation Cup title for the second time.

The White Knights enter the match with an 11-match unbeaten streak in the African second competition since their current campaign opening game defeat to Djibouti's Arta Solar.

However, Zamalek will face challenges as several key players such as winger Mostafa Shalaby, defenders Mostafa El-Zennari and Mahmoud 'El-Wensh' Hamdi, and veteran skipper Mahmoud 'Shikabala' Abdel-Razek will miss the anticipated clash due to injuries.

Additionally, the Cairo-based club will miss the contributions of winter signings Nasser Maher, Abdallah El-Said, and Seif Farouk Gaafar, who are ineligible to participate in the Confederation Cup due to their prior involvement with other teams in ongoing CAF tournaments.

On the other side, RS Berkane, who won the Confederation Cup title in 2020 and 2022, seek revenge as they aim for their third triumph. Defeating Zamalek would be particularly satisfying since it would redeem their 2019 defeat and cement their status as one of the competition's most successful teams alongside Tunisia's CS Sfaxien.

Berkane's journey to the final was marked by controversy, with a political dispute resulting in a 3-0 walkover victory in the first leg of the semi-final against Algeria's USM Alger.

Moreover, the Algerian side refused to play the return match in Morocco, leading to another 3-0 walkover in Berkane's favour.

The Orange Boys will rely on experienced Burkina Faso defender Issoufou Dayo, as well as the attacking trio of Paul Bassène, Mohamed El Morabit, and Youssef Zghoudi who have been instrumental in Berkane's success.

The Moroccan side will look to capitalize on their passionate home support at the Stade Municipal de Berkane, aiming to gain an early advantage in the first leg and establish a solid foundation for the return match.

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