Football

Jose Gomes eyes becoming first Portuguese coach to win CAF Cup

Jose Gomes hopes to become the first Portuguese coach to win the CAF Confederation Cup when his Zamalek team host Moroccan outfit Renaissance Berkane in Cairo on Sunday. Berkane hold a 2-1 aggregate lead after the first leg last Sunday in a repeat of the 2019 title decider won by Zamalek on penalties after a 1-1 overall tie.

The Moroccans, who have won the African equivalent of the Uefa Europa League twice, built a two-goal halftime lead through captain Issoufou Dayo and Adil Tahif.

But Tunisian Seifeddine Jaziri halved the deficit in the opening minute of the second half to set up an intriguing return match at the 75 000-seat Cairo International Stadium.

Gomes took the Zamalek reins in January, wanting to improve on winning just one trophy – the 2016 Saudi Super Cup – from head coach stints with 16 clubs in Europe and the Middle East.

Compatriot Manuel Jose won the CAF Champions League a record four times as coach of Al Ahly, the Cairo neighbours and fierce rivals of Zamalek, between 2001 and 2008.

Success has eluded Portuguese coaches in the Confederation Cup, however, since it was launched in 2004 after the African Cup Winners Cup and CAF Cup were discontinued.

“I can win trophies with Zamalek. Apart from great footballers, they have passionate supporters who create an incredible atmosphere,” Gomes told reporters in Cairo.

“Portuguese coaches are no strangers to Zamalek as Jesualdo Ferreira and Jaime Pacheco were both in charge three times and achieved success. Now it is my turn and I also want to succeed, starting with the Confederation Cup final against Berkane.

“I was unhappy with the way we started in Morocco and how we fell two goals behind. We did not play badly, but the opening half did not go according to plan.

“To the credit of my players, they scored a potentially precious away goal just after the restart and now I hope for a better performance in the return match.

“We must be particularly careful not to concede set pieces close to our goal as that is a Berkane strength. They have many quick, skilful, technically gifted players.”

Berkane coach Mouin Chaabani has won seven major trophies, including back-to-back CAF Champions League titles with Tunisian giants Esperance in 2018 and 2019.

Born in Tunisia, he coached clubs there and in Egypt before joining Berkane in February and leading them to a fourth Confederation Cup final.

“We faced difficult and strong opponents in Zamalek last weekend and the most important thing was that we won at home,” he told the Moroccan media.

“I know the margin of victory was narrow, and that we conceded a goal, but winning the first leg was crucial.

“After a very good first half, we became lax, and dare not fall into the same trap in Cairo. We must change our strategy and rectify mistakes.”

Zamalek boast an impressive home record in four Confederation Cup appearances of 16 victories and five draws, including winning streaks of nine matches and six.

However, recent home form in the African campaign must concern Gomes as they could only draw with fellow Egyptians Modern Future and Dreams of Ghana in knock-out matches.

Fortunately for Zamalek, they triumphed away against both clubs to reach the final and keep alive hopes of winning a 12th African title.

Source: Supersport

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