Will Egypt Cup triumph be enough for Zamalek?
After what has undoubtedly been a dismal season for Cairo giants Zamalek, the Egypt Cup provides the club with one last chance for silverware. However, will that be enough?
Just two years after winning a league and cup double, Zamalek finished third in the overall standings of the 2016/17 Egyptian Premier League.
Failure to qualify for the CAF Champions League quarterfinals compounded the Whites’ woes, with the arrival of Inacio failing to reignite the club’s campaign.
An ignominious group stage exit from the Arab Clubs Championship (held in Egypt) was the last straw for president Mortada Mansour, who sacked the Portuguese in typical Mansour fashion; the manager was initially held ‘hostage’ inside the club grounds, before a Portuguese embassy official stepped in to diffuse the situation.
Nevertheless, Zamalek will seek redemption by attempting to avoid a trophyless season as they take on Al Masry in the Egypt Cup semi-finals, with a probable Cairo derby awaiting them in the final providing both teams qualify against their respective opponents (Ahly face Smouha, who are also dissatisfied with their campaign so far).
Zamalek will consider themselves cup specialists, having won the last four editions of the competition, with the last two victories coming over bitter rivals Al Ahly in the final fixture.
However, the 2016 CAF Champions League runners-up have severely lacked an edge this season; six wins in their last 14 matches is an abysmal record for a side that claims to be the only real obstacle in Al Ahly’s domestic path to glory.
Looking past their poor form and many deficiencies, a significant question remains: Will winning the Egypt Cup ‘save’ Zamalek’s season?
Missing out on Champions League football was a huge blow, as was the humiliating elimination from the Arab Club Championship, despite being drawn against clearly inferior sides.
That is not to say that the cup is a meaningless competition- Al Ahly have failed to win it for 10 years. Moreover, victory would provide ammo for Zamalek fans who have justifiably been under fire from their illustrious rivals.
In the end, it is simply a matter of perspective. Is winning the Egypt Cup enough for a side struggling to keep up with Al Ahly’s league dominance, or should the Whites be aiming higher?
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