Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1338, (30 March - 5 April 2017)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1338, (30 March - 5 April 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Giresse could lead Zamalek

Zamalek’s head coach Mohamed Helmi is leaving upon his request, with former French midfield star Alain Giresse reportedly close to being hired

Zamalek’s president Mortada Mansour has said he had agreed to coach Mohamed Helmi’s request to leave the football club after just four months.

In a live TV show on Saturday 25 March Mansour said he was on the verge of hiring former French midfield star Alain Giresse, currently the Malian head coach. “Helmi did his best with Zamalek and was up to the challenges that brought him to this position but he wants to leave,” Mansour said.

“The club’s technical committee is choosing from among five candidates and the Frenchman Giresse is the closest to taking charge,” Mansour added.

Board member Ahmed Mortada said Augusto Inácio and Ricardo Sa Pinto of Portugal are also possible candidates, but added that priority would go to Giresse who was French footballer of the year in 1982, 1983 and 1987.

“Depending on an Egyptian coach isn’t a good idea because the players respect only foreigners. Zamalek fans and myself are not happy with the performance of the team which includes the best players in Egypt,” he added.

Helmi said he will not be part of the new crew that will take over. Mansour said earlier that Helmi would be welcomed to assist the team’s new boss.

Helmi said he was leaving because his “dignity mattered more than anything else”, without providing details.

Mansour hinted that some players had shown disrespect towards Helmi. “I love Zamalek. It’s my home, and I can bear everything with the team except when it comes to my dignity so I decided to leave,” Helmi told reporters. “I’m ready to leave at any time when management asks me to go but I won’t work as an assistant coach with a foreign manager.”

Zamalek, who are seeking to wrestle the league title back from Ahly, lie third in the Egyptian Premier League table with 40 points, 12 behind leaders Ahly who have played one more match.

Helmi, 54, was appointed on 30 November 2016 after local hire Mohamed Salah was sacked. Helmi had guided the team to the Super Cup title, beating rivals Ahly in February. Despite the win he has continuously been attacked by Mansour for poor performances.

Meanwhile, Ahly football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz said he was relieved to avoid arch-rivals Zamalek in the CAF Champions League group stage ahead of the tournament’s draw.

The 16 teams in the group stage will be divided into four pots, according to a points system based on their CAF 5-Year Ranking. The tournament draw, which takes place in April, will then match teams from one pot against another to form four new groups.

Since Ahly and Zamalek are currently in the same pot, they cannot be matched in the group stage.

“Zamalek is our opponent in the Egyptian Premier League so we could not be matched against them in the CAF Champions League,” Abdel-Hafiz told a television programme.

“We have played 25 games this season in the domestic competition and the Champions League and we didn’t lose any games,” he added.

In the group stage, the 16 teams are drawn into four groups of four. Each group is played on a home-and-away round-robin basis. The winners and runners-up of each group advance to the quarter-finals.

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