Zamalek issue four goal warning to Africa
Egyptian club Zamalek, shrugged off the political turmoil which has engulfed their country, to sound an early warning to their African Champions League rivals with a 4-0 whipping of Ulinzi Stars in Kenya on Saturday.
Once defender Mahmoud Fathallah broke the Nairobi deadlock on 62 minutes, the floodgates opened with further goals from Hassan Mostafa, Mohammed Amine and Ibrahim Salah giving the “White Knights” an unexpectedly easy success.
Zamalek have lifted the Champions League trophy five times since 1984—a record bettered only by Cairo neighbours Al-Ahly—but the last success came nine years ago.
Overshadowed domestically by bitter rivals Ahly for most of the past decade, Zamalek have been revitalised by the appointment of former star Egypt striker Hossam Hassan as coach.
The “Knights” lead the Egyptian title race by three points from Ismailia at the halfway stage of the 30-round season with Ahly a further three points adrift.
And a defiant message from Ulinzi coach Benjamin Myangweso that his weakened team would “not be cowed by Zamalek despite their pedigree and rich history in the competition” proved way off the mark.
Military club Ulinzi, who clinched the title on the final day of the season, were hard hit by injuries with defender Tom Onyango, midfielder and captain Stephen Ocholla and striker Kevin Simiyu ruled out.
Assuming Zamalek progress after the mid-February return match, APR of Rwanda or Club Africain of Tunisia await them in the second round and after a 2-2 draw in Kigali the odds favour the Tunis outfit.
The North Africans, who won the Champions League 20 years ago, took the lead twice through Khaled Melliti and Cameroonian Alexis Enam only for the Rwandan military club to level via Donatien Tuyizere and Jean Mugiraneza.
Zesco United of Zambia are another club set to progress after building a 3-0 home lead over African debutants Liga Muculmana from Mozambique courtesy of Alfred Luputa, Jackson Mwanza and Portipher Zulu goals.
Daring Club Motema Pembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo emulated Zamalek by winning 4-0 at KMKM of Zanzibar in the second-tier African Confederation Cup.
Ilongo Ngasanya had the 1994 African Cup Winners Cup title holders ahead within four minutes of the kick-off, Salakiaku Matondo struck in each half and the other goal came from Isawa Mfumu.
A late Khayelihle Dlamini penalty salvaged a 1-1 home draw for Mbabane Highlanders of Swaziland against Victors of Uganda, who went ahead just before half-time through Mike Kitende. - AFP.