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Egyptian referee to take charge of Cairo derby for first time in 3 years

Ahram Online , Saturday 17 Apr 2021
Ahly v Zamalek
Soccer Football - Egyptian Super Cup - Al Ahly v Zamalek - Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt - September 20, 2019 Al Ahly's Hussein El Shahat in action with Zamalek's Mohamed Abdelshafi (File photo: Reuters)
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An Egyptian referee will take charge of Sunday's Cairo derby for the first time in three years as the country's football federation turned down requests from Ahly and Zamalek to bring in a foreign official.

Mahmoud El-Banna, who started taking charge of top-flight games in 2013, was assigned by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) on Saturday to officiate at the high-stakes game, which will take place at Cairo Stadium.

The EFA broke away with the tradition of appointing foreign referees for the derby despite objections from Ahly and Zamalek, who both agreed that it would be better not to change course as tensions rise.

EFA officials insist Egyptian referees can rise to the occasion.

Mohamed El-Hanafi was the last Egyptian official to take charge of the game in 2018, which Zamalek won 2-1 in a dead-rubber after Ahly had already secured the league title.

El-Banna's task should be easier, however, following the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology last season.

Zamalek, who are eyeing their first league crown since 2015, top the table with 33 points, six ahead of fourth-placed Ahly, who still have three matches in hand.

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