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Zamalek to host Port Said's Masry in Cairo in league opener

Masry to play in Cairo for first time since Port Said Stadium disaster left 72 Ahly fans dead in February 2012

Eslam Omar, Thursday 12 Dec 2013
Zamalek
Zamalek won the Egypt Cup earlier this month after beating Wadi Degla in the final (Photo: Ahram)
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Zamalek will begin their league campaign with a home tie against Masry of Port Said, while archrivals Ahly will play military club El-Entag El-Harby, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) announced on Thursday.

The tournament, which starts on 26 December behind closed doors, was at risk of cancellation due to security concerns. The groups and fixtures draws were delayed many times due to a lack of coordination between the association and the security authorities.

Egypt has abandoned two successive league seasons due to security concerns.

In February 2012, clashes at the Port Said stadium left 72 Ahly fans dead following a game with Masry and led to the season's cancellation.

A year and a half later, yet another season was cancelled due to security concerns after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi and the ensuing mass protests.

Masry did not enter last season's tournament to avoid provoking Ahly fans. Their opening match of the new season against Zamalek raises fresh security concerns.

The 2013-14 season will have 22 teams divided into two groups. Five teams will be relegated at the end of the season and three promoted, leaving 20 teams in the subsequent season. The following season will see five teams relegated and three promoted, leaving 18 teams in the top league in the third season. The winner and runner-up in each group will qualify for the semifinal.

Ahly have won the last seven league trophies, and will be hoping for their 37th championship this year.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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