Preview: Egypt’s Ismaily, ENPPI face uphill climb in Confederation Cup

Ahram Online, Saturday 1 Jun 2013

Egypt could be left without any representatives at this year’s African Confederation Cup if Ismaily and ENPPI failed to overturn deficits in the second leg of the competition’s round of 16 on Sunday

Ismaily aiming to overturn 3-0 first-leg deficit at home to Tunisia's Bizertin (photo: Ismaily's official Facebook page)

Nothing less than remarkable comebacks from Egypt’s Ismaily and ENPPI could keep alive their hopes of ending the country’s jinx at the African Confederation Cup.

Egypt could be left with no representatives in the group stage of Africa’s secondary club competition if ENPPI and Ismaily failed to overturn deficits in the round of 16 second-legs on Sunday.

ENPPI, who are on the verge of securing passage to the Egyptian Premier League’s final phase after a recent fine run, slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat at Ethiopia’s Saint George while Ismaily suffered a 3-0 loss at Tunisian outfit Bizertin.

Ismaily are hindered by constant financial problems and a sudden announcement by rookie coach Mohamed Wahba that he will step down after just one month in charge.

They had already secured their place in the domestic league’s decisive round but remain a pale shadow of a side which are known for their attractive brand of football.

“We have to be cautious, nothing is settled yet,” Bizertin coach Mondher Kbaier was quoted as saying by Ismaily’s official website.

“Although we have the first-leg advantage, Ismaily are a strong team who can cause an upset. There is a step remaining in our path to the group stage,” he added.

ENPPI are taking heart from an exciting 3-2 league win over Haras El-Hodoud which put them within touching distance of a place in the competition’s play-off, where they will compete with Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily for the title.

ENPPI and Ismaily will be looking to avoid the sloppy defending which cost them dearly in a first-leg to forget, with both sides particularly poor at defending set pieces.

Both matches will be played in Cairo behind closed doors due to lingering security concerns in Egypt.

The Confederation Cup has eluded Egyptian clubs since it was introduced in 2004 by merging the African Cup Winners' Cup and the CAF Cup in a single competition.

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