CAPS United kick off the group stages of the CAF Champions League against Egyptian giants Zamalek at the Borg El Arab in Alexandria in Egypt.

The Zimbabwe premier league champions are on their maiden tour of the CAF Champions League mini league having qualified to the group stages for the first time in their history by knocking out five time African champions T.P Mazembe in the second preliminary round.

Despite it not being the first time that CAPS United participate in the African Safari, they are relatively new to the more recent ballistics of the tournament having won the Zimbabwean premier league title last year and qualified for the champions league for first time in over 10 years.

Zamalek on the other hand, have a hoard of experience in the competition, having participated in the final of the 2016th edition of the tournament which they lost to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.

While Zamalek will turn to their experience, CAPS United are riding on a wave of self-assurance having caused a surprise upset, bursting onto the scene and knocking out Lesotho champions FC Lioli and DRC champions TP Mazembe in the first and second preliminary rounds respectively.

“[I’m telling the players] nothing, but just obviously . . . to be competitive. Go there and try to be as good as you have been, especially last year.

“Yeah, we are deriving motivation from that. We were good last year; we are still good. We went to [TP] Mazembe [and] not many people gave us a chance [but] here we are. We deserved to be there and I think we derive motivation from that,” CAPS United coach, Lloyd Chitembwe told journalists.

Zamalek managing director, Khalid Jalal, said he was wary of CAPS United and said they were expecting a tough match.

“The upcoming CAPS United match will be very difficult, especially as it is our first match in the 16th round of the African championship,” Jalal said.

Zamalek recently appointed a new coach in Augusto Inacio recently and is one month old in his new job, a feat which CAPS United may likely find in their advantage.

The former Sporting Lisbon manager confessed that he knew nothing about Zamalek’s group B opponents but would be resting several players in the Egyptian league to save them from the champions league.

“I don’t know much about the African teams. Zamalek’s opponents in the CAF Champions League Group B are unknown to me.

“I had to rest some of the regulars because of Africa. Zamalek are a big club, must win every local and continental match,” Inacio said.

Team news

CAPS United are without veteran striker, Leonard Tsipa, who has just returned to training from injury. The 35-year-old 2016 Castle Lager Premier League golden boot winner, who was not registered for the first and second preliminary rounds, was registered for the tournament early this week.

Tsipa is the only injury absentee in Lloyd Chitembwe’s camp and United remain with several options upfront.

Zamalek will enter the game with no absentees of concern, with right-back, Hosni Fathi, the only injury absentee with Osama Ibrahim deputizing him.

Coach Inacio, however, opted to leave out talented playmaker, Ayman Hefni, from the squad, probably due to his lack of form.

Striker, Hossam Salama, who has been consistently omitted, has been included in the final squad alongside Bassem Morsi, Stanley Ohawuchi and Emmanuel Mayuka. It remains to be seen whether Salama would be given a chance in the starting line-up.

The game will be played in front of a limited number of 5000 fans but not behind closed doors, as the case has usually been with CAF games in Egypt.

 

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