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Preview: Zamalek need more spark against debutants NBE in Egyptian league
Published in Ahram Online on 25 - 04 - 2021

Under Jaime Pacheco, Zamalek fans often complained of their side's wastefulness. It's the other way around under his successor, Patrice Carteron, as the team often get the job done but struggle to create openings.
Leaders Zamalek meet debutants National Bank of Egypt (NBE) on Monday with the aim of maintaining their six-point lead over Ahly, even though the defending champions still have three games in hand.
Zamalek are fresh from beating El-Entag El-Harby 2-0 on Thursday, with Ahly's surprise 2-1 loss to Smouha a day earlier reviving their hopes of challenging their perennial rivals all the way.
But the White Knights' fans were still worried that their team had not created enough chances against Entag. They scored two-first half goals after taking full advantage of some naïve mistakes from their opponents.
Otherwise, they were largely toothless upfront, with Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki providing the only flashes of spark throughout.
Zamalek were more creative under Portuguese Pacheco even though they lacked a cutting edge, which cost them dear. Carteron's side are more clinical but less imaginative.
"This is the irony of football. Can't we have both?" asked one Zamalek fan on Facebook.
Although NBE are struggling at the wrong end of the table, lying third from bottom with 14 points, Zamalek can't afford to underestimate them as they are one of the few teams who held Ahly to a draw back in January.
Zamalek will miss veteran left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, who was one of their best performers in the past two games after recovering from a lengthy injury lay-off, after he tested positive for COVID-19.
However, they welcome back winger Mahmoud Shikabala, right-back Hazem Emam and playmaker Youssef Ibrahim after they recovered from minor complaints.
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