Cairo giant Zamalek SC, led by French coach Patrice Carteron, will play Pyramids FC, on Thursday, in the Egyptian Premier League at the Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
Historically, Zamalek have faced Pyramids a total of seven times as part of the local league, with the White Knights successfully beating their rivals five times, drawing once and losing once.
The two teams enter Thursday’s match tied in the Premier League table, on 45 points, although goal difference puts Pyramids in second place behind league leaders Al Ahly. Zamalek is currently trailing in third place.
The chances for Zamalek and Pyramids to gain top spot are limited, however, with either team only likely to achieve runner-up position to qualify to the African Champions League.
The match is of great importance to the White Knights, as they have to avoid losing to Pyramids in the Thursday evening match to avoid trailing them by three points. Zamalek also faces a three point deduction for having failed to play their arch-rivals, Al Ahly, in the first round of Egyptian Premier League matches.
Zamalek’s management has called on its players to go into tonight’s match at full strength and fighting spirit, in order to achieve victory over their strong competitor.
Carteron has also helped raise the morale of his players during a meeting, stressing the match’s importance, the strength of the opposing team, and the need to win. He also stressed their opponent’s weaknesses to ensure the White Knights go into the match with the aim of winning it. Zamalek won their previous match against Pyramids, with a score of 2-0.
The team is suffering from some notable absences in today’s meeting, most notably star midfielder Tarek Hamed, who has been suspended following a third red card, and Mohamed Abdel Shafi who is injured. The two players have been stable members of Carteron’s line-up until now.
Zamalek enters the meeting with a formation that includes: goalkeeper Mohamed Abo Gabal; Mahmoud Alaa and Mahmoud El-Wensh in the heart of the defence; Mohamed Abdul-Ghani to secure the right side next to left-back Abdullah Gomaa, and Ferjani Sassi in the middle of the field. This is alongside the duo Ahmed Sayed Zizou or Mohamed Hassan, playing behind the dangerous trio of Youssef Obama, Mohamed Onagm, Achraf Bencharki, under the bulldozer Mostafa Mohamed. Carteron has kept alternative trump cards, such as Kasungu, Omar Al-Saeed, Hossam Ashraf, Islam Gaber, Ahmed Eid, and Sheikabala.
On the other hand, Carteron’s Croat counterpart at Pyramids, Ante Cacic, hopes to achieve a positive result by defeating the White Knights, to move forward towards winning the second place position. He will come armed with a list of distinguished players who have great experience and skills. The most prominent of these are league scorer Abdullah Al-Saeed, Eric Traoré, Omar Gaber, El-Shennawi, Ali Gabr, Abdullah Bakri, Ragab Bakkar, Nabil Dunga, Ibrahim Hassan, Islam Issa, and John Antwi.