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Preview: Semi-final spot at stake as Zamalek take on Enyimba
Zamalek will host struggling Enyimba in the fifth round of the CAF Champions League as the race for the second semi-final spot intensifies after Mamelodi Sundowns booked the group’s first qualification spot.
Date: August 15, 2016 at 8:30 PM (GMT +2)
Competition: CAF Champions League, Group B
Stadium: PetroSport Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt
Zamalek will look to transform their recent domestic cup triumph into their CAF Champions League campaign after two disappointing losses against current group B leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. Zamalek suffered a 2-1 shock home defeat against the South African side in mid-July before losing the away game 1-0 ten days later.
Despite the recent losses in the African championship, the atmosphere at the White Castle is positive after their 3-1 win over arch-rivals Al Ahly in Egypt Cup final, a victory that will most likely be a huge boost for Zamalek ahead of the crucial game against Enyimba.
The White Knight’s sole win in the African competition has come away from home in the competition’s opener against the Nigerian side, which makes them more confident they can gain the upper hand when they face them in the return leg. And as the first leg win came in truly disastrous conditions and a soaked pitch, it will be interesting to see how Enyimba attack the five-time African champions in suitable and dry conditions.
The Egyptian side sit in second place in Group B, with the 1-0 away win against the Nigerians being the only thing separating the two teams at this stage of the competition. Sundowns however top the group after collecting maximum nine points.
Zamalek know that a point at PetroSport Stadium would suffice to snatch the second qualifying spot from the Nigerians and put them into the last four of the competition, whilst Enyimba are in real trouble and on the verge of elimination despite there being only three teams in their pool following the elimination of ES Setif over crowd trouble.
Despite being on zero points after losing to Zamalek and Sundowns, a win for the Nigerians would ignite their qualification hopes, as they will then tie with Zamalek on three points and will still have one game in hand against Sundowns in the final round.
Zamalek will be in full strength for the game with new signings Ali Fathi and Shawky El Said boosting their starting squad, whilst the impressive trio Mahmoud Abdel-Razik ‘Shikabala’, Bassem Morsi and Ayman Hefny will look to make life difficult for the Nigerians. Not to forget their recent spark from the bench winger Mostafa Fathi who surely will make a claim to start the game after an inspiring display against Al Ahly in the Egypt Cup final.
Predicted Zamalek XI:
Ahmed El-Shennawy, Ali Fathi, Ali Gabr, Islam Gamal, Shawky El Said, Tarek Hamed, Marouf Youssef, Ahmed Tawfik, Ayman Hefny, Shikabala, Bassem Morsi.