Preview: In rare move, Ahly appeal for fan support ahead of African Super Cup

Hatem Maher, Friday 22 Feb 2013

African champions Ahly meet Confederation Cup winners AC Leopards of Congo in the African Super Cup on Saturday

Players from Egypt
Ahly's football team(Photo: Reuters)

In an unusual move, Egyptian giants Ahly appealed for fan support as they host AC Leopards of Congo in the African Super Cup on Saturday, seeking to clinch a record-extending fifth title despite lack of depth in their squad.

Spectators will be allowed to attend the game at the 86,000-seat Egyptian Army Stadium in Alexandria but poor ticket sales are threatening to leave large parts of the venue empty.

The Red Devils are sorely missing their hardcore fans (Ultras Ahlawy), who said they would not return to the stands unless the perpetrators of last year’s infamous Port Said disaster were brought to justice.

Twenty-one Masry club supporters were given death sentences last month for their role in Egypt’s worst-ever football disaster. The rest of the defendants, who include nine security officials, will learn their fate on 9 March.

“Ahly are waiting for their fans to support the club and its technical staff to win the African Super Cup,” General Manager Mahmoud Allam said in a statement on the club’s official website.

“The amount of the tickets which were sold does not live up to our expectations. Our fans have always supported the team in such games.”

Ahly, who defied the odds to win the Champions League last year despite the lengthy stoppage of Egyptian football, are usually roared on by passionate crowd but they are unlikely to enjoy such support when they meet Confederation Cup winners Leopards.

They struggled to produce convincing performances in the Egyptian Premier League despite winning three of their first four games, with the departure of some key players and injuries to others clearly taking their toll on their displays.

Forward Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’ and right-back Ahmed Fathi joined English second-division side Hull City on loan until the end of the season while veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika moved to Emirati side Bani Yas as the club sought to allay their financial problems.

Key midfielders Hossam Ghaly and Walid Soliman also picked up serious knee injuries, leaving Ahly shorn of five regular players.

“This is an extremely important title. The CAF Super Cup is a title we want to win and victory will put our season on the right track. It would be great to win our fifth title,” Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry told CAF’s official website.

“This generation of players needs this victory, and also there are many new players who want to win and make history for themselves.”

Ahly last won the Super Cup in 2009 when they beat Tunisia’s Sfaxien 2-1 in Cairo.

“I saw many games for them and I know they’re a very good team. Going by what I know of them, we will put our game plan,” El-Badry added.

Ahram Online will provide live coverage of the match, which will kick off at 16:30 GMT (18:30 Cairo local time).

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