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Zamalek vs TP Mazembe: White Knights’ last roll of the dice?
Match: Zamalek vs TP Mazembe
Competition: CAF Champions League
Venue: TP Mazembe stadium, Lubumbashi
Date and Time: Saturday, August the 4th, 16:00 Egypt Local Time [GMT+2]
TV Listing: Al Jazeera Sport +9
Zamalek, who’re the second most successful club in the CAF Champions League history, after rivals Al-Ahly, now find themselves on the brink of elimination. It’s been 4 years since Zamalek have won a trophy – the Egypt cup in 2008 – and exactly 10 years since they’ve last won the Champions League. Mazembe however, have been at the peak of their history in recent years. The Ravens have won DR Congo’s Linafoot in 2009 and 2011 and also have replicated their domestic success on the continental stage, winning the CAF Champions Leagues twice consecutively in 2009, 2010 – only to be disqualified in the 2011 competition. Not to mention, Mazembe also won the 2010 and 2011 editions of the CAF Super Cup.
Over the past few weeks Zamalek has been falling apart. Mido leaving for Barnsley wasn’t even the start of their troubles. Coach Hassan Shehata has resigned following the ongoing rift with star player Shikabala – who has now joined Al Wasl in the UAE on a one-year loan. Assistant coach Ismail Youssef has been leading the Whites since then, but intends to step down after the match against Mazembe, he said, “so that the board can feel free to choose the right man for the job.” Injury-prone Amr Zaki also wont take part in the match as he’s set to leave for Gaziantepspor in Turkey. This could very well be Ahmed Hassan’s last game, with a return to Belgium on the cards as Egyptian-owned Lierse SK owner Maged Samy already confirmed terms have been agreed. The only positive has been the return of Razak Omotoyossi, who went AWOL last month.
Probable starting XI: Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed; Sabry Raheel, Mahmoud Fathallah, Hamada Tolba, Hazem Emam; Alexis Mendomo, Ibrahim Salah, Nour El-Sayed, Mohamed Ibrahim; Ahmed Gaafar, Abdoulaye Cisse.
Much like Zamalek, Mazembe’s Champions League campaign hasn’t gone according to plan. Having lost and drawn in their first two matches, Mazembe are seeking to get themselves back on track with a full squad against weakened Zamalek.
Probable starting XI: Muteba Kidiaba; Miala Nkulukata, Jean Kasusula Kiritsho, Stophira Sunzu, Kazembe Mihayo, Patrick Ilongo Ngasanya, Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala; T. Mputu, Given Singuluma, Mbwana Ally Samata.
Mohamed Ibrahim (Zamalek)
Mohamed hasn’t always been a regular starter for Zamalek since being promoted from the youth squad in 2010, but has shown some real class in his touches and following the U-20 World cup in 2011. After his standout performance against Al Ahly, and the departure of Shikabala, Ibrahim is expected to play a huge role in the remainder of Zamalek’s Champions League campaign.
Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe)
Ever since joining the Club in 2010, Kalaba has always been the difference-maker. He played a vital role in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, winning the tournament with Zambia. Kabala is expected to play as an attacking midfielder just behind Mputu.
Prediction: Mazembe 2-2 Zamalek
Taking a look at the match circumstances, Zamalek are most likely to play defensively in DR Congo and rely on attacking on the counter while Mazembe will be attacking viciously to try and force taking the 3 points at home. It looks like a match that will be full of goals and we expect a 2-2 draw.