The CAF Champions League final between Al Ahly and Zamalek has raised intensity amongst the club’s legends.
The rivalry between the clubs has intensified in recent seasons, especially on social media. Undoubtedly, it’s always been humdingers when the two sides lock horns.
Zamalek and Egypt retired star Hazem Emam says that the two clubs are like brothers. This comes after the rivalry between clubs raised fears of clashes amongst supporters after the 2019 Egyptian Super Cup. Ahly fans took to the streets in several regions to celebrate their victory before being “infiltrated” by fanatics, who were arrested.
“Ahly and Zamalek are like brothers and, unfortunately, the fanaticism is only among fans,” said Emam.
However, supporters are deprived the joy of being at the stadium to witness the two Egyptian giants battle it out at Cairo International Stadium tonight (21:00) in a historic event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after Africa’s football governing body CAF decided to play the game behind closed doors following much deliberation with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA).
Emam also added that the Red Devils have switched to “collective football” since the former Mamelodi Sundowns’ mentor Pitso Mosimane arrived at the club, whereas Zamalek’s newly hired coach Jaime Pacheco has changed little.
The former Ahly player Walid Salaheldin insists that Mosimane has freed his troops from restrictions imposed by former coaches, and that might work in favour of Ahly.
“Mosimane has freed the players from restrictions imposed by former coaches, which tips the scales in his players’ favour against Zamalek’s players and their individual skills, especially (Achraf) Bencharki and Ferjani Sassi,” said Salaheldin.
Salaheldin went on to raise his concerns about FIFA’s decision on holding the FIFA Club World Cup next year in February.
“(FIFA’s) decision on holding the FIFA Club World Cup in Doha next February has raised the intensity of the confrontation,” Salaheldin added.
Al Ahly have won the Champions League eight times and been crowned Egyptian Premier League champions on 42 occasions while Zamalek have won the premier African club competition five times and have been Egyptian champions on 12 occasions.
In 2016, Mosimane guided Mamelodi Sundowns to a 3-1 aggregate victory against Zamalek in the CAF Champions League final.
Now the big question is that, will history repeat itself when Mosimane face Pacheco’s side?
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By Mauwane Raophala