APR v Zamalek
VIP pavilion: Frw 5000
Covered stands: Frw 2000
Stands: Frw 1000
Without the class of 2004, national league champions APR will be looking to show Zamalek they must watch their backs again in the race to challenge for this year’s MTN Caf champions league.
The military side, have been surprisingly not in good form at the home front since the turn of the year, but their chances of winning the championship have receded in recent weeks as they fell just one point behind former APR’s coach Jean Marie Ntagwabira’s Atraco.
Ntagwabira was behind Zamalek’s 2004 African champion’s league exit at the hands of APR, so they (Zamalek) go into today’s game with some scores to settle or call it revenge.
Finishing top and earning automatic qualification for the preliminary stages of next season’s Champions League campaign appears to be a more attainable target for the nine-time national league champions than winning this year’s African crown.
Andy Mfutila, even without a host of his top players will be trying to emulate his predecessor when the Tanzanian referee blows the first whistle at the newly laid Nyamirambo artificial stadium.
The Congolese coach is without playmaker Haruna Niyonzima who is still nursing a knee injury he sustained over a fortnight ago as well as goalkeeper Aimé Ndizeye who is suspended.
Other player missing include Mbuyu Twite also suspended, Jean Marie Vianey Rukundo while Kabange Twite is a major doubt as well. However, Mfutila believes the available players are capable of getting a result against an experienced Zamalek side.
“They (Zamalek) are a good side but they know little about us and so do we, therefore, it’s important that we get a good result against them.
“We need to take full advantage of playing at home, in-front of our fans and get maximum points because the return leg (in Egypt) is definitely not tough to be easy,” he told Times Sport after taking his team through yesterday morning training session.
Fresh from conquering Africa at national-team level Zamalek will be launching Egypt’s challenge for continental club glory.
The ‘White Knights’, the club named after a wealthy suburb in Cairo, supplied four players to the 23-strong ‘Pharaohs’’ squad that defeated Cameroon 1-0 in the Nations Cup final last Sunday for a record sixth title.
With Amr Zaky sharing the honor of being among the tournament’s leading scorers at with four goals, APR defenders will have their hands full.
According to an Egyptian football website Filgoal, Amr Zaki is fully fit to play against APR of Rwanda in the CAF Champions League.
Quoting assistant coach Ayman Mansour, “Zaki is injury-free, despite press reports suggesting otherwise. He is set for a starting role in the match,” Mansour told FilGoal.com.
The big forwards had initially been ‘ruled’ out of today’s game but he along with three other national heroes jetted in the country on Thursday and is expected to be the starting eleven.
The prolific hitman sustained a minor knock during Egypt’s 1-0 victory over Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations final. Meanwhile, Mansour fears that fielding winger Mahmoud Abdul-Razeq ‘Shikabala’ against APR could be a risk.
Zamalek board member Ahmed Hafez revealed recently that Shikabala has been cleared to play by FIFA despite being hit with a six-month ban for his transfer wrangle.
However, Mansour said the Egyptian FA informed Zamalek that they are yet to receive any confirmation from the world governing body.
El Zamalek arrived on Wednesday without four of their influential players ahead of their CAF Champions League tie against APR today.
The quadruplet of striker Amri Zaky, Tarek El Sayed, Karim Aly Mohammed and custodian Mohammed Abdel Monsef is reportedly with the national team in Dubai celebrating their African Nations Cup win over Cameroon on Sunday.
But the quadruplet arrived separately on Thursday and trained with the rest of their teammates on Thursday and Friday at Nyamirambo stadium.
The winner between APR and Zamalek will face the winner between Tonnere FC of Benin and Africa Sports of Ivory Coast in the second round.