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Preview: Zamalek look to confirm Champions League final spot in Rabat
Zamalek are one foot into their first Champions League final in twelve years after handing Wydad a 4-0 battering. KingFut previews the second leg still to be played.
Date: September 24th, 2016, 12.00am (CLT)
Competition: CAF Champions League semi-final
Stadium: Stade Du Fus, Rabat
On Friday, 16th September, Africa trembled as Zamalek returned. Zamalek beat Moroccan opponents Wydad Casablanca in the CAF Champions League semi-final first leg, a big step to finally ending the period of doldrums on the continent.
Led by Shikabala, Zamalek dispatched Wydad Casablanca easily. So much so that John Toschak, the former Wydad coach who was sacked after the match, described the performance of the Moroccan champions as that of children. The home team scored two goals in each half, never giving the opposition a chance.
Momen Soliman, the White Knights coach, remained cautionary despite the huge win. You can’t blame him though after what happened in Sousse last year. But he need not worry. No team that has lost a CAF Champions League semi-final leg 4-0 has reached the final; since the last four was reintroduced in 2001.
Soliman will be tempted to make changes to his consistent line-up that has brought an upturn in form, especially now that the Egyptian League has started.
But there’s little room for intriguing tactical changes. The defence is makeshift and the three-man midfield is not the most offensive-minded you’ll ever see.
This leaves the attack as the area where style-altering changes can be made. Loanee Stanely Owahuchi and Mostafa Fathi are shouts to start over Shikabala and Ayman Hefny. If only that wide duo is rested for the league, Basem Morsy, could keep his place ahead of Emmanuel Mayuka.
As typical of many African clubs, it’s almost a given that Zamalek will be content with sitting back in Morocco. The home team will have to find solutions to what they have experienced over and over in the competition.
Typically they have relied on wide men, Hajhouj and El Haddad, to create chances from the flanks. The club’s new coach is not going to be able to make to many changes for the second leg. Only the bit of motivation from the stands and from the players gives them a shot at defying the odds.