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Ahly given nod by ministry to host Ethiopian side in Cairo

Egypt's Interior Ministry agrees to secure Ahly game at home to Ethiopian Coffee, ending a protracted saga that threatened team’s Champions League future

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 4 Apr 2012
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Ahly have been given the green light by the Ministry of Interior to host Ethiopian Coffee at Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium on Sunday to mark the end of a dispute, which cast doubts over the club’s African Champions League future.

The Red Devils failed to meet a deadline to provide security guarantees ahead of the round of 32 second-leg tie, after the interior ministry initially rejected to secure the match, as it seemingly feared retaliation from Ahly’s hardcore supporters (Ultras Ahlawy).

Ultras Ahlawy vowed not to allow the resumption of football activities in Egypt until justice is done in the Port Said case.

At least 74 fans died and hundreds were injured, when thousands of Masry supporters invaded the pitch to confront Ahly’s visiting contingent following the end of an Egyptian Premier League game on the first of February.

Earlier Reports said the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had given Ahly more time to resolve the dispute. According to CAF regulations, the Cairo giants could be banned from taking part in African competitions for up to three years if they did not play the Ethiopian Coffee game.

The club made a last-ditch appeal to the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and interim Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri in the early hours of Wednesday in a bid to end the headline-grabbing saga.

“Given that Ahly’s board of directors highlighted the sanctions which the club could face ... [Interior] Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has agreed to hold the match behind closed doors,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Ahly’s board has pledged to prevent any fan presence in or outside the stadium.”

In a letter sent to the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) last month, the interior ministry, which came under fierce criticism following the Port Said tragedy, insisted it would not secure any match unless 10 safety requirements were met by clubs.

“The ministry calls on all football parties to act in the best interests of the country and refrain from any irresponsible actions which could force us to reverse the decision to secure the match,” the statement added.

The first leg ended in a goalless draw in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

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