Football

CAF Champions League holders, runners-up in danger of early exit

Al Ahly and Zamalek are struggling in their groups as both lie in third place and may suffer early elimination from the competition.

CAF Champions League holders, runners-up in danger of early exit
AFP7 vía Europa Press AFP7 vía Europa Press

Last year's CAF Champions League title holders Al Ahly and runners-up Zamalek have both had a disappointing start to their continental campaign three games into the tournament's group stage, with both teams lying third in their sections.

The Egyptian giants' wavering run can be put down to the high number of absentees in both squads, in addition to the administrative instability Zamalek have been suffering lately due to the multiple changes of coaches.

A poor continental campaign for the champions

Al Ahly, who have a record nine Champions league titles, started their journey with a 3-0 victory over Sudanese side Merrikh, with their fans setting high expectations that qualification to the next round will be an effortless job.

However, the team went down 1-0 to Simba S.C in Tanzania in the next game, before a draw with Veta Club complicated the situation of the Red Devils, who have earned four points out of the first three encounters, the same as Veta Club, who Al Ahly are set to take on in the fourth round of the group stage on Tuesday.

Al Ahly have no choice but to claim a good result should they want to maintain their chances of qualification.

Carteron hopes to turn things around for Zamalek

Zamalek's situation is no better than Al Ahly's, as last year's runners-up have claimed two draws with MC Alger of Algeria and Senegalese Teungueth before conceding a 3-1 defeat to Espérance Sportive de Tunis.

The White Knights' supporters hope the return of French coach Patrice Carteron, who replaced their former coach Jaime Pacheco a few days ago, will help the team get back on track and secure a ticket to the next round of the tournament.

Carteron parted ways with the team before their Champions League semi-final encounter last year, accepting a job at Saudi club Al Taawon. The club's administration was keen on bringing back the French coach, who kept the team on good form last season.

Zamalek are now third in their group with two points, three behind MC Alger and five behind Espérance Sportive, who they face in Cairo on Tuesday.

Al Ahly and Zamalek met in last season's title decider in Cairo, the Red Devils snatching their ninth title with an 86th-minute screamer from their playmaker Mohamed Magdy Afsha.