18:30 Cairo local time | 12:30 ET Canada-USA
Venue: Cairo’s international stadium
Referee: Ibrahim Nour-Eldin
Zamalek will face Ismaily SC today on the back of two successive losses against Enppi and Talae El-Geish, which cast serious doubts over their ability to win a second straight title.
Despite the March arrival of fan favourite Ferreira, who led Zamalek to a rare domestic double during his previous spell at the helm in 2015, the team still appears disjointed — largely porous at the back and ineffective up front.
The veteran Portuguese boss can be hardly blamed for the inconsistent form, with Zamalek suffering from a shortage of options due to a transfer ban that FIFA had imposed on the club last summer.
Having failed to make any new signings as a result, Ferreira sometimes even finds it difficult to complete his starting line-up, let alone find alternatives whenever a player picks up an injury or receives an automatic suspension.
Against Ismaily, Zamalek will play without several regulars, including midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed, left-back Ahmed Fattouh, right-back Hamza Mathlouthi and veteran winger Mahmoud Shikabala — who are all injured.
Zamalek survived a scare from second-division side Aswan to claim a hard-fought 2-1 win and reach the 2021 Egypt Cup final on Monday, with the tournament having been halted last season due to a packed schedule.
Although they are close to completing the domestic double of last season, they will have to return to winning ways in this term’s league competition if they are to avoid ending the season empty-handed.
Although Zamalek are leading the table with 41 points, Ahly can overtake them with a five-point lead should they win their three games in hand.
Three-time league winners Ismaily are still facing the unthinkable prospect of being relegated to the second division as they lie third from bottom with 18 points from 19 games, on level with 15th-placed Arab Contractors, who played a game more.