The Cairo giants Zamalek parted ways with French coach Patrice Carteron on Monday in a move that could also have repercussions in Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt.
A 3-1 loss to Wydad Casablanca in the CAF Champions League on Saturday sealed the Frenchman’s fate with criticism over his tactics and second-half substitutions. The defeat left the White Knights winless in the first three games of Group D, meaning the five-time title winners face a first-round exit from continental competition if results do not improve soon.
At home, the reigning Egyptian Premier League champions are currently third in the domestic table behind bitter rivals Al-Ahly and Pyramids.
Carteron is set to be replaced by Portuguese tactician Jaime Pacheco for his third term in charge of the club.
Carteron himself leaves Zamalek for the second time. The first outing was in December 2019 when he joined Al-Taawoun in Saudi Arabia. In March 2021, the former Al-Nassr boss made the return trip to the Egyptian capital. Now he’s on his way again and in his farewell message to the fans, the 51-year-old was keen to leave his options open.
“I want to thank the fans of Zamalek and the president of the club. I saw everyone’s support after my sad departure. I wanted to win a second trophy with Zamalek,” Carteron said. “I don’t want to create problems with the club or resort to FIFA. I would like to terminate the contract amicably because I want to be able to return to the club at any time.”
This being Zamalek, there was more drama surrounding the decision. On Sunday, club president Mortada Mansour said he heard an audio message he said came from Carteron. In it, the president claimed, the coach was talking to his agent and instructing the representative to complete negotiations with a club in Saudi Arabia.
“Carteron is preparing to flee Zamalek for the second time, and we have voice recordings of him which I will release,” Mansour, who had recently complained about Saudi teams trying to sign his best players, told TV, adding that he was ready to complain to FIFA about the French coach.
This no longer seems necessary today and the situation seems to have been settled amicably, but the actions have been noticed in Saudi Arabia. Many believe that the club Carteron allegedly spoke with is Al-Ahli. The position of the club’s current manager, Besnik Hasi, is highly uncertain after a disappointing season in which the Jeddah giants faced relegation worries and were kicked out of the Copa del Rey last week.
Then there was last weekend’s dramatic 4-3 loss to Al-Ittihad in the Jeddah derby against the league leaders. Coming back from 3-0 to 3-3 was a great achievement, but a last-minute penalty decision saw the beleaguered side finish the game without a point.
While club officials continue to deny it, rumors have swirled that the Albanian boss could leave soon while there is still time for a new manager to make a difference this season.
Over the past few days, other clubs in the lower part of the Saudi Professional League have rolled the last dice in a bid to ensure their survival. Last week, two of the bottom three released their coaches.
Al-Hazm was the last dead when they dropped Constantin Galca on February 21. Three days later, Al-Faisaly said goodbye to Daniel Ramos after a series of poor results saw the team fall into the relegation zone and then signed Marinos Ouzounidis from Greece. It remains to be seen what effect these changes will have, but it’s worth noting that Al-Hazm performed well in their 2-0 loss to defending champions Al-Hilal.
Al-Ettifaq is second from bottom and is expected to change coach soon. Under Vladan Milojevic, the Dammam club has not tasted victory since November. Their next match is against Al-Ahli on Friday.
Assuming both coaches are in place for this game, the loss could well mean the end of the line for one. It is planned to be a huge game. Victory will take the Jeddah Giants and four-time champions away from the drop zone.
Al-Ahli club president Majid Al-Nafiei told local television on Monday that this was what he expected and that the club was already planning for next season, which he had promised to be in. the leading pack. “We won’t go down and there will be a lot of changes,” he said. “We have worked hard to prepare for next season technically and in terms of recruiting players.”
It remains to be seen what will happen with the coach.