Despite achieving one of the best result from the first leg matches of the 2012 Orange CAF Champions League, Cairo outfit Zamalek remains cautious going into the return leg at home to visiting MAS Fes of Morocco this weekend at the Military Academy Stadium in Cairo. The White Knights takey a 2-0 lead from the first leg and are favorites to reach the groups stage for the first time since 2008, but Zamalek coach Ismail Youssef warned his charges of underestimating their opponents. Youssef toldCafonline.com that the pressure will be on his team and not their visitors.
Cafonline.com: You look favorites to qualify for the groups stage going into Sunday’s match. Is that how you see it?
Youssef: Nothing has been decided yet. There are still 90 minutes of football to be played and anything can happen. In football you should never make the mistake of underestimating your opponents or else you would be punished for that.
Cafonline.com: Why do you sound overcautious ahead of the return leg?
Youssef: In Zamalek we had an unpleasant memory in similar circumstances. That was back in 2006 when we faced Moroccan Raja Casablanca in the Arab Champions League. After achieving an away 2-0 victory everyone was relaxed and we thought we already qualified to the next round, just to be awakened by a shocking 3-0 defeat at home and we were out. We learnt well from that lesson and that's why we will go into Sunday’s game with one thing in mind, to forget all about the first match win and go for a win that will see us qualifying to the groups stage.
Cafonline.com: Are all your players fit and ready for the game?
Youssef: Not all of them. We will miss Ahmed Housam "Mido" and Ahmed Samir through injury. Also Benin import Razak Omotoyossi is suspended. But we'll have our first choice goalkeeper Abdel Wahed ElSayed back from suspension, and also defender Hany Said is fit after a long absence. The players are ready and focused for this match.
Cafonline.com: How are your preparations for the game going?
Youssef: As you know we are missing competitive games because the domestic league was cancelled, but we managed to arrange for a friendly match and went on with our regular training sessions. Manager Hassan Shehata has trained the players on the game tactics and we hope that would apply on pitch.
Cafonline.com: MAS is under pressure to score and win in Cairo, does this situation suit you best.
Youssef: On the contrary the pressure will be more on us as we need to defend our lead. MAS has nothing to lose and will attack from the first whistle, and this will put us under pressure. But we will make sure to field our best available squad as everything is still to be decided on pitch. We respect MAS Fes a lot, but we'll do our best to qualify to the groups stage.