Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be dressed up in red and white and fully packed by fans of Egypt’s two most famous clubs who will battle for the Egyptian Super Cup. The Ahly-Zamalek derby of the Arab world will be played today, Thursday, 20 February in the United Arab Emirates. It will be the fourth time the UAE hosts the one-off Egyptian Super Cup following matches in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
More than 40 Egyptian journalists will be going to Abu Dhabi to cover the match in print and broadcast. Both Time Channel and Abu Dhabi Channel have been opening studios for interviewing Egyptian football stars past and present for analysis of the game that pits the Red Devils of Ahly against Zamalek’s White Knights.
Supporters in the stadium and television viewers will enjoy a musical spectacle before the match which will showcase Egyptian superstar singer Mohamed Hamaki. Gifts will be distributed to fans.
The cup’s organising committee said sales of match tickets increased after Zamalek won the Africa Super Cup last week.
Ahly winger Ramadan Sobhi has been included in the Red Devils squad after recovering from a hamstring strain.
The in-form Sobhi, who plays for Ahly on loan from English side Huddersfield Town, picked up the injury while training in December and has missed most of the team’s games since then.
The 22-year-old Sobhi, who came from Ahly’s youth ranks, is a key player in coach Rene Weiler’s lineup, bringing much needed strength and creativity to the frontline. Sobhi recently helped Egypt’s under-23 football team reach this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Zamalek will be entering the game with morale high, being crowned African Super Cup champions after beating Esperance of Tunisia 3-1 in Qatar. Ahly, on the other hand, will be hoping to continue their 15-game unbeaten domestic run.
Norwegian international referee Svein Oddvar Moen will be in charge of the match, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) said.
Moen, 41, officiated the Cairo derby in 2016 and was in charge of the Egypt Cup final in 2017 when Ahly defeated Masri 2-1. He will be joined by assistant referees Magnus Lundberg and Kim Tomas Haglund.
The EFA said Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be on hand for the match, adding that two Croatian referees will be in charge of the system during the game.
Ahli have won the Egyptian Super Cup 11 times while Zamalek will be looking for a fourth title. Ahly are the reigning champions, defeating Zamalek last year 3-2.
Mohamed Fadl, EFA board member, announced that a special PUMA ball will be the official Egyptian Super Cup match ball while the logos of the two teams are printed on the ball.
In the run-up to the game, Abu Dhabi unveiled the new ball and an exhibition match was held between retired Ahly and Zamalek players attended by 500 spectators in Gezira Club in Abu Dhabi.
Ahli’s 24-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Mohamed Al-Shennawi, Sherif Ekrami, Ali Lotfi
Defenders: Rami Rabia, Ayman Ashraf, Yasser Ibrahim, Mohamed Hani, Ahmed Fathi, Ali Maaloul, Mahmoud Metwalli, Mahmoud Wahid
Midfielders: Hossam Ashour, Amr Al-Sulaya, Hussein Al-Shahat, Mahmoud Kahraba, Walid Suleiman, Mohamed “Afsha” Magdi, Aliou Dieng, Geraldo da Costa, Ramdan Sobhi, Ahmed Al-Sheikh
Strikers: Junior Ajayi, Marawan Mohsen, Aliou Badji
Zamalek’s 27-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Mahmoud Gennesh, Mohamed Abu Gabal, Mohamed Awad, Mohamed Sobhi
Defenders: Mahmoud Alaa, Mohamed Abdel-Ghani, Mahmoud Hamdi Al-Winsh, Hazem Imam, Abdullah Gomaa, Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, Mohamed Abdel-Salam, Ahmed Eid
Midfielders: Ferjani Sassi, Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Ounajem, Youssef Obama, Shikabala, Achraf Bencharki, Karim Bambo, Mustafa Fathi, Ahmed Sayed Zizo, Mohamed Hassan, Mohamed Antar, Islam Gaber
Forwards: Mustafa Mohamed, Kabongo Kasongo, Omar Al-Said
*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.