Egypt's Ahly and Zamalek African showdown delayed 24hrs

Ahram Online, Tuesday 16 Jul 2013

Highly anticipated match will now be held on Monday, 22 July in El-Gouna; crowd ban still in place due to security concerns

File photo: Ahmed Hassan of Egypt's Zamalek (C) fights for the ball with Egypt's Al Ahly Abdallah El Said (L) and Oussou Konan during their CAF Champions League derby soccer match at Borg El Arab "Army Stadium", west of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, 230 km (143 miles) north of Cairo, September 16, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has delayed the Cairo derby between Ahly and Zamalek in the group stage kick-off for the African Champions League.

"The match will be held on Monday, 22 July at 4:30 instead of Sunday for marketing reasons," said Egyptian Football Association (EFA) spokesman Azmy Megahed.

The showdown is scheduled to be held in El-Gouna stadium, 22 km north of Hurghada’s International Airport, behind closed doors due to security concerns around the current political conflict in Egypt.

Hardcore fans of both teams threatened to attend the match by force, however the CAF warned that the match would be cancelled if violence occurred.

"Security authorities have officially green-lighted the new timing of the derby," EFA executive manager Tharwat Swailam told Ahram Sports.

The future of the anticipated match was uncertain, as officials debated whether or not to hold the match outside Egypt due to security concerns.

Ahly are eyeing a second successive Champions League triumph, while success-starved Zamalek are chasing their first continental title since 2002.

"The match delay will not influence our preparations as the Zamalek team is fully ready," the Whites newly-appointed manager Helmy Tolan declared on Tuesday.

Ahly and Zamalek were both drawn in Group A of the African tournament, alongside South Africa's Orlando Pirates and AC Leopards de Dolisie of DR Congo.

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