Africa: No Retreat, No Surrender for Zamalek Against Sundowns

“We can win” – these were the words of Zamalek players upon their arrival in Cairo following their 3-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa last Saturday in Pretoria.

Despite the seemingly comfortable lead for their opponents, the ‘White Knights’ look optimistic that they can defy all odds and cancel the three-goal deficit and go on to win the title.

“I apologize to all our fans”, Zamalek coach Moamen Soliman said after the team returned to Cairo.

“I take full responsibility for that defeat. We played well in the first 25 minutes and were the better side. We missed a number of scoring chances but then we conceded twice in nine minutes and that made the mission tough for us.

“It’s a tall mountain to climb now but we can perform a miracle and win the title. In the semi-final second leg in Morocco, we saw a very tough day (when Wydad won 5-2 but Zamalek still qualified 6-5 on aggregate). Sundowns will see a much tougher day in Alexandria, I promise. We still have hope and we are going to win this title”, concluded Soliman.

Anthony Laffor and Tebogo Langerman scored twice in the first half before an own goal by Zamalek defender Islam Gamal handed the South Africans victory, their third over the Cairo giants this term.

“The first leg is history now”, Zamalek captain Mahmoud Abdel Razek ‘Shikabala’ remarked at their training grounds on Tuesday.

“What happened in South Africa will never be repeated. Now we have 90 minutes to reply and win this trophy. We have no excuse”, he added.

Over 50,000 Zamalek fans are expected to storm the 86,000-seater Borg El Arab Stadium, about 20-kilometres outside Egypt’s second largest city, Alexandria.

Zamalek officials are still trying to convince security authorities to allow a “full house”, to cheer the team to win their sixth title. Domestic games in Egypt are still played behind closed doors, but fans are allowed to attend continental games in specific numbers due to security concerns.

The 2016 CAF Champions League final 2nd leg is scheduled to kick off on Sunday 23 October 2016 at 20:30 local time (18:30 GMT). At stake for the winner is US$1.5 million prize-money for the winner and the ticket to represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup in December in Japan.

Source: Confederation of African Football.