12.07.2015 14:19 h

'Donkey' coach creates Zamalek thoroughbreds

Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira, labelled a 'donkey' by Jose Mourinho, is turning Egyptians Zamalek into a team of football thoroughbreds.

The Cairo outfit triumphed 2-1 at South Africans Orlando Pirates this weekend to wrest control of Group B in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.

And Zamalek are poised to win the Egyptian title for the first time since 2004, needing four points from four matches to take an unassailable lead over fierce rivals Al Ahly.

But while Ferreira is having a major impact on the Cairo club, Chelsea manager Mourinho is no fan of the unsmiling 69-year-old with greying, close-cropped hair.

The 'Special One', who guided the London club to English Premier League and League Cup triumphs last season, was dismissive of Ferreira in a past magazine column.

Referring to Ferreira, Mourinho wrote: "This could be the story of a donkey ... who never became a horse."

The personality clash extended to Mourinho refusing to work with Ferreira when both were at leading Portuguese club Benfica.

Nine-title Zamalek are the second most successful CAF club after Ahly, but have not landed a big African prize since lifting the 2002 CAF Champions League trophy.

That drought could be about to end as they looked potential Confederation Cup winners when coming from behind to sink Pirates in north-eastern city Nelspruit.

Content to defend for long periods, the 'White Knights' switched to overdrive after falling behind on 68 minutes when Lehlohonolo Majoro scored a minute after coming off the bench.

Zamalek levelled within four minutes as Nigerian Maarouf Youssef rifled a close-range shot past goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo.

Substitute Mostafa Fathy scored a sublime winner six minutes from time, curling a penalty-area shot past several defenders and across Mhlongo into the far corner.

"I thank all my players because they are really fighters who played while they are fasting." Ferreira said.

"We won despite having six players injured and are top of the group. Our goal is nothing less than winning the Confederation Cup."

Egyptian footballers have permission to break a dawn-to-dusk fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but rarely do.

Zamalek have six points after two rounds, Pirates three and Tunisians CS Sfaxien and Congolese AC Leopards, who drew 1-1 in Sfax Saturday, one each.

Etoile Sahel maintained a perfect start in Group A by winning 1-0 at Esperance in a Tunisian derby watched by a Rades crowd restricted to 30,000 because of security concerns.

An Ammar Jemal goal on 50 minutes proved decisive after Etoile had Brazilian Diogo Da Costa red-carded during the opening half.

Severely depleted Confederation Cup title-holders Ahly play Stade Malien in Bamako later Sunday.