- The appointment of Patrice Cateron has been a turning point for Zamalek
- He has a master plan for big games in CAF competitions
- He has won the CAF Super Cup
- Could reach Champions League semi-finals
Arguably, Zamalek have been one of the best African clubs in CAF Inter Club competitions since appointing Patrice Carteron from Raja Club Athletic four months ago.
The Egyptians were somehow unconvincing under former manager Milutin ‘Micho‘ Sredojević despite the Serbian laying full hands on the Egyptian Cup just two weeks after his arrival at Zamalek.
A recent poor run of form saw Zamalek trade Micho for 2015 Champions League winner Carteron following the former’s defeats to both ENPPI and TP Mazembe in the Egyptian Premier League and CAF Champions League respectively.
Carteron’s appointment has been the turning point for the Egyptian giants in the CAF Super Cup and Champions League. Carteron masterminded Zamalek 3-1 victory over Africa’s best club Esperance in the 2020 Super Cup final in Qatar.
Zamalek put three solid goals past Esperance who had got the best of experience and exposure in high stage of football having Esperance participated and placed fifth in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, leapfrogging Al Sadd in a 8-goal thriller before they faced Zamalek in the Super Cup final.
Carteron’s masterminded score line remains one of the biggest in Super Cup history in 17 years when Zamalek themselves swallowed Wydad Athletic Club 3-1 in 2003 final of the CAF Super Cup.
The victory stands to represent the highest ever Super Cup score line recorded in 10 years after TP Mazembe won the title with a two goal margin against Stade Malien in 2010.
In the CAF Champions League, there was little hope for Carteron’s men when they were paired against the continent’s best club Esperance before the two even graced the Super Cup final. With Super revenge at hand, and also given room for the fact that Zamalek had been surrounded by so many controversies following their boycott of the Cairo derby, the job to get his team on proper track for first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals became more difficult for the French International.
However, Zamalek beat Esperance the same score line in the Super Cup with the manager making just a single change, replacing Youssef Obama with Mohammed Ounajem who the latter drew Zamalek on level after Abdelraouf Benguit had taken Esperance the lead.
This whole scenario isn’t by chance, however, it communicates one thing that beating Esperance in the Super Cup wasn’t spurious, and that, Carteron have eventually come to get what seems to be a master-plan for getting reputable results against the big clubs on the continent.
The plan remains a secrete and deployed it in the Egyptian Super Cup, seeing it scuffed the ground, Ahly’s chances of winning the Egyptian Super Cup title for a third time in a row.
The plan lies in the choice of suitable system, confidence instill in players and the tone of play set by the French trainer.
Under Micho, Zamalek struggled to organize their passes together and players were freely restricted to express themselves on the pitch against the big clubs.
Carteron however has instructed this Zamalek side to keep the ball in a more confident manner, and unleash whatever talent he has got against opponents, that is why the likes of Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Ounajem, Achraf Bencharki and Zizo are all delight to watch during big games against TP Mazemebe at home, Esperance (two games) and Ahly in the Egyptian Super Cup.
In first leg of the Champions League, Zamalek had 69% of ball possession against 31% for Esperance and thumbed the Tunisians 3-1 to confirm their total dominance ahead of the Champions League second leg game in Tunis.
Zamalek now stand high chance of appearing in the semi-finals of the competition for the first since 2016. And they are expected to make the second leg tight when Carteron already have in hand a master-plan to face the Champions League title holders and, any team at any stage including finals of the Champions League.