18:30 Cairo time (GMT+2) | 12:30 ET Canada-USA
Venue: Mahalla stadium
Although Zamalek are on top of the Egyptian Premier League table, coach Jesualdo Ferreira said the players need to believe that they can defend their crown against all the odds.
Zamalek will be eyeing their fourth consecutive win when they meet Ghazl El-Mahalla away from home on Saturday amid fierce competition with perennial Cairo rivals Ahly and the big-spending Pyramids FC.
Many wrote the White Knights in the first half of the season off due to a series of problems, on top of which a transfer ban that FIFA had imposed on the club last summer, preventing them from making any new signings.
Their thin squad was further reduced recently, with long-serving midfielder Tarek Hamed, Zamalek’s most consistent performer in the past five years, reportedly on the verge of joining Saudi Arabia’s Ittihad after his contract expired.
Key Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki is still playing with the team but he is also likely to leave before the end of the Egyptian league season after his deal ran out.
But Ferreira has introduced some young players to fill the gaps, some of which have excelled as Zamalek march on. They claimed a narrow 1-0 win over Arab Contractors for their third straight win on Tuesday but the veteran Portuguese coach insisted the players should believe more in themselves.
Zamalek top the table 54 points, four ahead of second-placed Pyramids with 10 matches remaining. Ahly, who played two games less than the top two, are third on 48 points.
Mahalla, who suffered a 4-0 loss to Zamalek in the reverse league fixture last December, sit 13th in the 18-team table with 26 points.
Zamalek will miss several players through injuries, including regular central midfielder Mohamed Ashraf, experienced left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafi and in-form young forward Youssef Nabih.