Analysis: What has Mido brought to Zamalek?

Omar Zaazou, Sunday 23 Feb 2014

Ahram Online explores the tactical changes made by new Zamalek coach Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' since he took over in January

Ahmed Hossam Mido
Zamalek's coach Ahmed Hossam Mido (Photo: Bassam Al-Zoghby)

Zamalek have won four and drawn one under rookie coach Ahmed Hossam 'Mido', but has he introduced any tangible changes to the side?

Despite his victories coming against unfancied Minya, Qanah and Niger's Douanes (home and away), Mido has clearly made a real impact.

High backline

Prior to Mido's appointment, Zamalek suffered from ex-coach Helmy Toulan's deep back-line strategy, which gave opponents huge pockets of space between the lines.

Zamalek bore the brunt of failing to execute that system properly, particularly in the 1-0 league loss to Ismaily, who capitalised on their opponent's midfield frailties.

The acres of space between midfield and defence allowed Ismaily's Ibrahim Hassan to strike unmarked from long range.

Even when Zamalek used to press high up the pitch under Toulan, their deep back-line strategy usually rendered their pressure useless, as the team would quickly retreat into their own half upon losing the ball.

But Mido, who played for 11 European sides during his career, moved to address that drawback, playing with a high back line in his first game and pressing high up the pitch.

Zamalek were able to close down space and their pressure paid dividends, winning the ball more frequently and retaining possession for longer spells, unlike under Toulan.

"Coach Mido has a totally different approach to former boss Helmy Toulan," defender Yasser Ibrahim told Ahram Online.

"Mido continuously instructs us (defenders) to leave the least space available for opponents between the defence and midfield.

"Another difference is Mido's great focus on improving our individual weaknesses by targeting them specifically in training."

Rotation policy

A rotation system is another important aspect of the former Tottenham striker's strategy with Zamalek.

Mido has fielded around 20 players in his first four matches, making four changes to the starting line-up in each game.

"With such a hectic schedule, we always need fresh legs. I told my players we would do that from day one," Mido said in a television interview.

"The result of what we are doing now will be clear in April when we approach the final playoff. My team will be fresher than their competitors."

The rotation policy, however, has been criticised by pundits for being likely to adversely affect the team's harmony.

Whether the system will have that effect will only become apparent in the future.

Gaber, Moemen change positions

Mido has also tried some players in new positions.

Omar Gaber, who usually plays right back or holding midfielder, was moved to attacking midfielder in an attempt to make the most of his pace and agility in the attacking third.

The 22-year-old met his manager's expectations, making more contributions in attack while increasing his presence in the opposition's penalty box.

It became apparent that scoring was just a matter of time for Gaber, and he notched up a wonderful goal in the 4-0 win over Qena. 

If Gaber's position change could be deemed plausible, given his attacking attributes, a more risky change was switching natural playmaker Moemen Zakareya to defensive midfield.

Surprisingly, Moemen has excelled in his new position and was crucial in building attacks and intercepting passes in midfield in the wins over Qena and Douanes.

Ibrahim introduction

An arguably audacious decision by Mido was playing 21-year-old Yasser Ibrahim in the heart of defence, despite him being out of action since the start of the season.

The former Mansoura man quickly proved his credentials with his physicality and timed anticipation.

The summer signing is now tipped to retain his place at the expense of veteran Mahmoud Fathallah, who seems past his prime.

Despite an overall improvement in tempo, work rate and results, Mido will still need to focus on some inconsistent key players, including the flamboyant Mohamed Ibrahim and holding midfielder Nour El-Sayed.

Should Mido, who turned 31 on Sunday, succeed in helping those players recapture their lost form, Zamalek are likely to be vying fiercely for the league title and the latter stages of the Champions League.

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