Ahly, Zamalek in Champs League derby

FIXTURES Saturday ES Sahel     vs     Sunshine Stars Sunday TP Mazembe     vs     Berekum Chelsea Zamalek     vs     Al Ahly      21:55 SS9
Al-Ahly’s Mohamed Barkat (top) fights for the ball with El Zamalek’s Omar Gabr during their Egyptian Premier League derby soccer match at Cairo Stadium. Net photo
Al-Ahly’s Mohamed Barkat (top) fights for the ball with El Zamalek’s Omar Gabr during their Egyptian Premier League derby soccer match at Cairo Stadium. Net photo

FIXTURES
Saturday
ES Sahel     vs     Sunshine Stars
Sunday
TP Mazembe     vs     Berekum Chelsea
Zamalek     vs     Al Ahly      21:55 SS9

It will be the first time in over 100 years’ history that Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek face each other behind closed doors on Sunday.

The Cairo arch rivals clash in the CAF Champions League mini league Group B, but this time the Military Academy Stadium stands will be empty as the security concerns is still an issue in the Egypt.

The Day 2 fixture looks like a crucial one already for both teams, after Zamalek lost their opening group phase encounter to Ghanaian debutants Berekum Chelsea 3-2, when an injury time goal from Emmanuel Clottey completed his hat-trick for the day.

Meanwhile Ahly enjoyed another injury time goal to squeeze past 2010 Champions TP Mazembe of the DR Congo 2-1 with Mohamed Nagy “Geddo” scoring in the dying seconds.

It will be the fifth time that the Whites and Reds lock horns in the continent’s premier club championship. They first met in the 2005 Champions League semifinal with Ahly winning both legs 2-1 and 2-0 respectively; and the Reds went on to win the title in that year.

In 2008 they met again in the group stage, with Ahly winning the first leg 2-1 and then they played to a 2-2 draw in the second. Ahly also went on to win the title that year.

The two clubs have 11 Champions League titles between them with Ahly record Champions League winners with six titles, followed by Zamalek who have five on their own.

Interesting enough the club side that is third on the list of titles won; with four titles, TP Mazembe is drawn in the same group with the two Egyptian sides making it a fierce battle for the semifinal spots from this group. Debutants Berekum Chelsea also proving they’re not minnows in this group.

But would the “empty stands” affect the derby clash? Well, it seems so, at least the fans seem to think so. Hisham El Fiky, a regular fan at Ahly matches told Cafonline.com:

“How come a Derby is played behind closed doors. This is beyond our imagination to see Ahly v Zamalek in an empty stadium”.

His Zamalek counterpart said the same, with Ahmed Adel, a hardcore White fan telling Cafonline.com: “It’s unbelievable that we won’t be able to attend such a crucial game”.

It seems to also affect the technical staff, with Zamalek assistant coach Ismail Youssef saying “Both teams will be affected negatively with the absence of their supporters. We would have liked to have a full house for such a game”.

Ahly manager Houssam El Badry echoed Youusef remarks saying “Fans’ absence will definitely affect both teams’ performance.

We were hoping the fans would have attended the game to give the Derby its regular atmosphere. But it remains a big game despite being played behind closed doors”.

It’s always impossible to predict the outcome of such a big game, but what’s guaranteed is that almost everyone will enjoy it.

 

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