The team atmosphere at Zamalek and MC Alger could not be any more different heading into their CAF Champions League Group Stage meeting. Nevertheless, this is a North African derby – and one between Egypt and Algeria mind you. We except an exciting encounter between the two.

Zamalek Probable XI: Abougabal – Emam, Alaa, El Wensh, Fatouh – Ashour, Hamed, Sassi – Obama, Bencharki, Zizo (4-3-3).

MC Alger Probable XI: Salhi – Hachoud, Saadou, Haddad, Brahimi – Harrag, Diomande, Addadi – Belkhier, Frioui, Bensaha (4-3-3).

The match is on Friday, 12th February 2021, with kickoff time being 9pm CAT.

What is at Stake?

Zamalek was the most in-form team in Africa at the end of January 2021 according to the CAFCL Gazette Power Rankings. The team has shown strong goal scoring form to achieve one of their best starts to an Egyptian Premier League season. The loss of Mostafa Mohamed to Galatasaray has not detered the White Knights. Youssef Obama’s good form has contributed to this.

MC Alger looked more like Zamalek is now just a month or so ago. Unfortunately, they have only won once since they knocked out CS Sfaxien from the CAF Champions League. The poor form triggered MC Alger fans to attack the club headquarters and Nabil Neghiz became a casualty of their anger. Neghiz was sacked as MC Alger coach and his replacement, Abdelkader Amrani, has only had a few days to prepare for this CAFCL assignment.

What will the Match be Like?

Egypt and Algeria do not like each other but we do not expect that to boil over on the pitch. MC Alger’s main aim will be to put on a good defensive performance as it is the least elaborate thing to coach in a few days if you are in the shoes of, coach, Amrani. He will be lucky if this is his approach because Neghiz was consistent in the faces he lined-up for defensive and midfield duties.

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Zamalek will be tested in the CAFCL for the first time this season and they need to demonstrate their hunger to go a step further than they did last season. There is also the fact that Esperance Tunis is also in this group. Pacheco will be sad to have let Mostafa go but will be relieved to have settled the issue on who should be the striker. It looks like Achraf Bencharki will be left to do his thing with Zizo and Obama supporting either side.

Prediction

Zamalek 2-0 MC Alger

I guess this was never going to go any other way. But the fact that Zamalek is enjoying their best form and that MC Alger have only recently appointed a new coach due to poor form makes it difficult to look beyond a White Knights win.