Zamalek’s Ayman Hefny (right) celebrates his goal against Enugu Rangers when the teams clashed in the first leg of their CAF Champions League qualifier in Cairo…at the weekend. PHOTO. ENGLISH.AHRAM.ORG.
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Egyptian giants, Zamalek, who defeated Enugu Rangers 4-1 in their CAF Champions League first leg last qualifying round, began training for the second leg of the tie yesterday with the intention of beating the Nigerian champions in Enugu on Sunday.
Zamalek are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday for the tie in which the over all winners will move to the group stage of the CAF Champions League.
Speaking before his team began their training session for the return leg yesterday, Zamalek Coach, Mohamed Helmi warned his wards to stay vigilant for the away match.
Helmi told the club’s official website that “victory is just a step towards qualification, which will require effort and focus in Nigeria.”
The five-time Champions, who will visit the Nigerian league holders for the return leg on Thursday, gave an outstanding performance in the first leg, winning the praise of critics and fans.
“Zamalek played a great game. I deeply thank the players for the great show,” football director, Ismail Youssef, said after the game at Cairo’s El-Salam Stadium.
However, while Zamalek have already started looking beyond Rangers in their dream of winning the Champions League trophy, one of the Nigerian champions’ star, Edoh Ocheme, believes his side can upturn the huge deficit. But he agrees the task is enormous.
“I’m still confused how we conceded those number of goals… I think the goals are simply too many. I never thought we could concede more than a goal in the encounter. I wept profusely when the goals kept coming that we were three goals down in the first 45 minutes.
“Well we have come to accept the outcome as it’s as no amount of crying could change the result of the match,” he said.
“Right now we have our jobs well cut out as we must score at least three unreplied goals to progress to the next stage of the competition.
“The task looks daunting but not insurmountable once we are able to do the needful as well as prepare adequately for the reverse fixture clash.
“All hopes are not lost as we are quite capable of scoring the three mandatory goals in the first 45 minutes just as Zamalek SC performed at their backyard in Cairo.
“At least we have role models in Barcelona to copy as well as look up to as we get ready for the reverse clash.
“Barcelona have shown that in football nothing is conclusively done and dust until it’s completely over.
“That’s the mentality we will bring into the second leg coupled with some self-belief I’m sure we will upturn the disadvantage to advance to the next stage of the competition.
“Nigerians should not write us off, we have a second chance to make amend and we will do it to the cheering of our teeming fans,” the former Giwa FC star said.