Zamalek fighting psychological battle, says coach

Mahmoud Elassal, Sunday 19 Feb 2012

Port Said disaster affected players mental state ahead of Young Africans match, admits Shehata; second leg to be played behind closed doors in Cairo on 3 March

El Zamalek coach Hassan Shehata (Photo: Reuters)

Zamalek coach Hassan Shehata has revealed that he had difficulty preparing his players psychologically before Saturday's match against Tunisia's Young Africans due to the Port Said disaster.

The African Champions League preliminary round first leg finished in a 1-1 draw.

“Preparing the players psychologically was more important than the technical elements,” Shehata told a television programme after the game.

The 62-year-old also revealed that newly-signed winger Islam Awad was substituted in the 36th minute after suffering muscle problems, making way for natural left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafy.

“I did my best with the players' morale after Port Said riots,” he added.

The second leg will be played on 3 March in Cairo, albeit behind closed doors due a sanction imposed on Zamalek by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) following last season’s fan riots in a round of 32 match against Tunisia’s Club Africain.

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