The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) held the 2012-2013 Premier League draw Wednesday, announcing that competition will begin on 17 September following a seven-month stoppage.
Following last season's cancellation in the wake of the Port Said Stadium disaster, speculation was rife over the future of football activities in the country.
More than 70 fans died and hundreds were injured after clashes broke out between Ahly and Masry fans in Port Said stadium.
Despite ongoing security concerns, President Mohamed Morsi's sport's affairs minister, El-Amry Farouq, announced he is keen to resume football competition in the country as it’s “an important business sector.”
The season is due to start next Sunday with the Super Cup match between Ahly, last season's league champions, and ENPPI, last season's Egypt Cup champions, in Borg El-Arab stadium in Alexandria behind closed doors.
The draw, pulled by Meqasa football director Walid Hwaidi, resulted in an away opener for Ahly in Ghazl El-Mahalla, while archrivals, Zamalek, will be hosting military side Haras El-Hodoud. However, both matches have been postponed, as the two Cairo giants will be busy playing their last round of the group stage of the African Champions League.
Cairo derbies between Ahly and Zamalek are scheduled for round 17 and 34, as organisers chose to delay the inevitable showdown.
The two sides have hard clashes ahead, as Ahly is set to play Petrojet, Wadi Degla, Meqassa, Tala El-Giesh respectively in their starter, while Zamalek will face Ismaily, Somouha, El-Entag El-Harby and Ittihad of Alexandria.
Ahly's hardcore fans, Ultras Ahlawy, are still protesting the resumption of league play, demanding “martyrs rights” first.
The EFA initially said that it would gradually permit supporter attendance but has suddenly retracted its decision leaving the stands future in doubt.
“My message to those who oppose the league resumption is: if you can do anything to stop it, just do it,” association spokesman Azmy Megahed told the press during the draw, insisting that “football activities must return, as we are talking about a very important sector that benefits millions of workers and pleases tens of millions of fans.”
The Port Said club Masry announced their withdrawal from the competition out of “ respect for the Egyptian football supporters” despite having successfully appealed their two-season ban last month.
The EFA is currently run by appointed acting chairman Amer Hussien, after the last elected board resigned in February following the Port Said Stadium disaster until the ongoing new round of elections end.
Egyptian Premier League Day 1 matches:
Zamalek v Haras El-Hodoud
Ahly v Mahalla
Ittihad of Alexandria v El-Entag El-Harby
Arab Contractors v Gouna
Wadi Degla v El-Dakhelya
Petrohet v Beni Swif Telephones
Meqassa v Ismaily
Ittihad El-Shorta v Somouha
Tala El-Giesh v ENPPI
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