Preview: Zamalek backtrack on threat to withdraw from Egyptian league
Hatem Maher , Tuesday 22 Dec 2015

Zamalek will not go as far as withdrawing from the Egyptian Premier League despite a threat to do so, with outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour stoking tensions with the competition's referees ahead of Wednesday's game against modest Ghazl El-Mahalla.

The controversial lawyer, who is widely known for his acid remarks, launched a foul-mouthed tirade against the head of the refereeing committee after his side conceded two penalties and had a player sent off in a surprise 3-2 defeat by Talae El-Geish on Sunday.

It marked the title holders' first defeat in six games but the result itself was overshadowed by the post-match remarks of Mansour, who said Zamalek would withdraw from the league unless refereeing chief Ahmed Wagih was dismissed.

Mansour held a news conference on Tuesday to reveal what he described as the "biggest corruption case" in Egyptian football, saying referees were bribed by a "well-known company" to fix games, without elaborating further. He said he had presented evidence to Egypt's general prosecutor.

"We will not surrender and if no action is taken before Sunday, I will reveal to the press all the corruption scandal details and all the names involved," he added.

Wagih said Mansour's attack was totally unacceptable and affirmed the refereeing committee's independence while the fiery-tempered chairman, in an apparent change of heart, said Zamalek's game against bottom side Mahalla would go ahead as scheduled.

Zamalek are overwhelming favourites to overcome promoted Mahalla, although they will miss several regular players including injured midfielder Ahmed Tawfik and suspended defender Ali Gabr.

However, they welcome back Bassem Morsi, Zamalek's top scorer last season who drew a blank in the first few games of the new term and was briefly suspended by the club's board after violating their instructions not to post anything on social media accounts.

Full-backs Hazem Emam and Adel Gomaa were left out of Zamalek's squad for "technical reasons" after both were repeatedly exposed in the defeat by El-Geish.

Ismaily, Egypt's third most successful side who have not won the league since 2002, are also in the spotlight after coach Mido, who played for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax Amsterdam in a nomadic playing career in Europe, stepped down after falling out with skipper and club icon Hosni Abd-Rabou.

Mido accused Abd-Rabou, voted the best player in Egypt's triumphant 2008 African Cup of Nations in Angola where he was praised by Portuguese boss Jose Mourinho, of "conspiring against him", saying the 31-year-old was the primary cause of a dressing-room unrest.

Sixth-placed Ismaily, who have 13 points from seven games, are at home to second-placed Maqassa who bagged 18 points from nine matches.

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