Ahly-Zamalek derby moved to Alexandria's Egyptian Army stadium

Mahmoud Elassal , Sunday 19 Jul 2015

Interior ministry agrees to secure Ahly vs. Zamalek showdown in the Egyptian Premier League at Alexandria's Borg El Arab Stadium

File Photo: Abdallah El Said of Egypt's Al Ahly (2nd R) celebrates a goal with team mates during their CAF Champions League soccer match against Morocco's Moghreb Tetouan at Petro Sport stadium in Cairo, May 2, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

A few hours after Ahly threatened they would withdraw from the Cairo derby, Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab gave the country's football association the green light to stage the game at the Egyptian Army stadium in Alexandria's Borg El-Arab, ending speculation over its fate.

"In a bid to solve the problem between Ahly and Zamalek as well as not to halt the Premier League, the Interior Ministry agreed to secure the game at Borg El Arab Stadium behind closed doors," an interior ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by Ahram's Arabic news website late on Sunday,

Ahly firmly rejected the Egyptian Football Association's (EFA) decision to hold the anticipated match against bitter rivals Zamalek in El-Gouna, saying they would not be able to play in the Red Sea resort's searing heat because of a lack of floodlights.

The Red Devils, who also said the Gouna pitch was unplayable because of its poor condition, said they were ready to play in three venues: Suez, Sharm El-Sheikh or Borg El Arab, 

Zamalek, who are bidding for their first Egyptian Premier League title in 11 years, accepted the decision of playing the game at Gouna Stadium.

"The bad condition of Gouna Stadium's grounds may cause injuries to the team's players three days before the CAF Confederation Cup game against Etoile du Sahel," read a statement released by Ahly earlier on Sunday.

Several cities have reportedly refused to host the match, which will be played behind closed doors, including the capital Cairo and Suez.

A draw for Zamalek, who have not beaten their cross-town rivals since 2007, will give them an unassailable nine-point lead over Ahly with two matches to go.

Ahly have been the league champions for the past eight seasons.

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