Will Ahly get the green light to host Ethiopian Coffee? (Photo: Ahram)
Ahly have made a last-ditch plea to Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) as they seek to avoid an imminent CAF ban if they fail to provide security guarantees ahead of an African Champions League game.
The Red Devils are due to host Ethiopian Coffee on Sunday at Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium in the second leg of the competition’s round of 32 but the interior ministry has so far refused to secure the match.
“The emergency meeting of the board of directors will continue until we find a solution for this problem, which could have dire effects on the future of the club,” Ahly general manager Mahmoud Allam said on the club’s official website in the early hours of Wednesday.
“Ahly might be banned from taking part in African competitions for three years if we do not play the Ethiopian Coffee match, according to the CAF regulations.
“The club are disgruntled by what’s going on, especially that the armed forces had already agreed to secure the match. The security officials have also allowed Zamalek to play against Africa Sports at the same venue on the 25th of March."
Zamalek, Ahly’s arch-rivals, were the only Egyptian side to play competitive games in the country following the Port Said tragedy, which left at least 74 fans dead and hundreds injured on the first of February.
The White Knights hosted Tanzania’s Young Africans and Ivorian outfit Africa Sports in two Champions League games at Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium. Both matches were played behind closed doors.
The interior ministry is seemingly reluctant to give Ahly the green light to follow in the footsteps of Zamalek, fearing retaliation from their die-hard supporters (Ultras Ahlawy), who vowed not to allow the resumption of any football activities unless justice is done in the Port Said case.
“We call on Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri to immediately intervene and pressure the interior ministry into taking on their responsibilities,” Allam added.
“We also call on the armed forces to agree to secure the match and the delegation of Ethiopian Coffee to end this problem before the Wednesday deadline of 11 AM (Cairo local time).”
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Ultras Ahlawy group said it would not “bow to threats from authorities”.
Its members insisted they would continue their open-ended sit-in, which they started on the 25th of March after Port Said-based club Masry were banned for two seasons by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), the sanctions which were deemed too lenient by Ahly’s hard-core supporters.
Ahly are the record winners of the Champions League with six titles under their belt. The first-leg ended in a goalless draw with Ethiopian Coffee in Addis Ababa.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter: @AO Sports)