Zamalek and Esperance will renew rivalries when they meet in their CAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg match in Cairo. The match is on 28th Feb, 2020 with kickoff time being 1800 CAT.
Zamalek Probable XI: Abougabal – Emam, Alaa, El Wensh, Abdulshafi – Hamed, Sassi – Zizo, Obama, Bencharki – Mostafa (4-2-3-1)
Esperance Tunis Probable XI: Ben Cherifia – Mbarki, Bedrane, Yacoubi, Chetti – Coulibaly, Ben Romdhane, Benguit – Meziane, Ouattara, El Houni (4-3-3)
What is at stake?
Esperance Tunis are on an impossible mission to win the CAF Champions League for a third season in a row. The team looked invincible until, coach, Chaabani decided to field his second team for the final group match against JS Kabylie. Esperance lost that match and went on to lose the CAF Super Cup to Zamalek. The team now has to regroup to recapture the aura that surrounded the side in the CAFCL for the last 2 seasons.
Zamalek, on their part, have been enjoying quite a revitalization. They put a blemish on their great run by refusing to show up for the Cairo Derby match this week. Nevertheless, the team has recently won 2 Super Cup trophies by beating Esperance Tunis and Al Ahly. The team also beat Ismaily in the league, demonstrating that the White Knights were well equipped to handle the present run of difficult fixtures. Everything is in place for them to continue their momentum in the quarterfinal first leg. Zamalek will be at home and have a better H2H record against Taraji.
What will the match be like?
The visitors look set to unleash, record signing, Abderrahamane Meziane. The Algerian winger came on as a sub, during a league match over the weekend, to play his first match for Esperance Tunis. He is expected to start and be a real threat against Zamalek. But the man who may yet turn out to be the key is Hamdou El Houni. The Libyan playmaker has blown hot and cold this season but we know he can play on a completely different level as he demonstrated in the FIFA Club World Cup thrashing of Al Sadd.
The only position Chaabani will have headaches on who should start is central midfield. Kwame Bonsu should be the obvious partner to Coulibaly. Unfortunately, for him, he was thoroughly exposed in the CAF Super Cup by Zamalek. Secondly, his competitor, Ben Romdhane has been in better form and will hope to be considered by Chaabani for a match of this calibre.
Zamalek have done well in recent outings but the team is surely physically and mentally exhausted heading into this one. Patrice Carteron has maintained a consistent line-up and his approach should no longer be a surprise for Esperance. They will still be expected to dominate proceedings considering that they will be the home team. Their weak fullback position was not punished by Esperance in the Super Cup and they will hope to get away with it again.
Zamalek 1-1 Esperance Tunis
Esperance Tunis are CAFCL experts and they will be expected to show exemplary match management when out in Cairo. Zamalek have shown that they are more than a match for the Tunisian side but the mental exertion they have been asked of in the last few fixtures may hold them back.