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Preview: ‘Cousins’ Zamalek and Ismaily reignite rivalry
Match: Zamalek vs. Ismaily
Competition: Egyptian Premier League
Venue: Petrosport Stadium
Date and Time: Monday, July 6th 2015; 22:00 CLT (21:00 GMT)
In the last fixture between the two Egyptian giants in December of last year, a Zamalek side then managed by Jaime Pacheco were left ruing lost chances following a 0-0 draw.
Now, current manager Jesualdo Ferreira will be looking to rebound from a 2-1 loss to Misr El-Maqassa in the last matchday. He will be bolstered by the return of Bassem Morsi, Ahmed Samir, and Mohamed Shaaban; on the other hand, talented midfielder Omar Gaber will miss the clash due to injury suffered against the Fayoum-based side.
For Ismaily, Tarek Yehia will be looking to use momentum from their 3-1 dismantling of Smouha to up-end the White Castle and secure a two-game win streak.
Zamalek: Ahmed El-Shennawy; Hazem Emam, Ali Gabr, Mohammed Koffi, Hamada Tolba; Ibrahim Salah, Ahmed Tawfik, Tarek Hamed; Mostafa Fathy, Ayman Hefny; Bassem Morsi.
Ismaily: Essam El-Hadary, Abdelrahman Hassan, Ahmed Nasser, Mohamed El-Baeli, Bahaa Magdy; Amr El-Sulaya, Mohamed Fathy; Mohamed Zika, Ibrahim Hassan; Emmanuel Banahene, Kenneth Ikechukwu.
Zamalek will head into the encounter on top of the Egyptian Premier League table with 77 points from 33 games. Despite holding the top position for the majority of the season, supporters of the White Knights will be feeling nervous due to the team dropping seven points from their last five games, including their 2-1 loss to Misr El-Maqassa. Cairo rivals Al Ahly are surging up the table, only six points behind Zamalek, who do have one game in hand. The Whites will be relishing the return of talisman Bassem Morsi, who was excluded from the squad for the Maqassa match due to suspension.
On the other hand, Ismaily broke a four-game streak of draws by coming from behind to defeat Smouha 3-1 last week, and in the process moved to fifth place in the standings with 55 points from 36 games. Still suffering from FIFA’s decision to deduct them six points at the beginning of the season as a result of the overdue payments for former Nigerian striker John Owoeri, Ismaily will be looking to jump into fourth position before the end of the season to secure a place in the CAF Confederation Cup. The victory over the Alexandrians marked the first time in four games Ismaily scored a goal, and the Dervishes will be hoping Ghanian striker Emmanuel Banahene, who bagged a brace last game, will continue his goal-scoring form.
Zamalek: Bassem Morsi
Sitting second in the Egyptian Premier League goalscorer table behind Dakhleya’s Hossam ‘Paolo’ Salama (18 goals) with 14 goals this season, Morsi has become an integral component of the starting 11. The 23-year-old and Ayman Hefny have formed a formidable attacking duo, with the latter’s adept dribbling and pinpoint deliveries accompanied by Morsi’s impressive runs often causing problems for opposing defences. Morsi’s 14 goals and Hefny’s 9 assists are a major reason for Zamalek’s position at the summit of the league table and the defenders in yellow will need to be conscious of this deadly duo.
Ismaily: Amr El-Sulaya
The 26-year-old holding midfielder will be very influential in this game, pulling the strings for a young Ismaily midfield likely consisting of 17-year-old Mohamed Fathi and 23-year-olds Ibrahim Hassan and Mohamed Zika. Linked with moves to European clubs, Gulf clubs, and both Cairo giants, the Egyptian international has scored 5 goals and provided 6 assists for his teammates this season. The Egyptian international will be integral in controlling the midfield, and him having an off-day could prove critical for the Yellow Dragons.