File photo: Ahmed Hassan of Egypt's Zamalek (C) fights for the ball with Ahly's 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 on 16 September 16 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has warned Cairo duo Zamalek and Ahly that they could be expelled from the African Champions League if their fans violated a crowd ban during Wednesday’s Group A clash, Zamalek said on Sunday.
Zamalek, who will host the game at a tiny 12,000-seat stadium in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna, said they had been notified by CAF that any fan presence would not be allowed.
“The club’s football administrator was warned by CAF that Zamalek and Ahly could be dismissed from the competition if their fans stormed the stadium on Wednesday,” Zamalek said in a statement on their website.
“CAF said that while it had accepted a number of requests to stage the game, including moving it more than 600 Km [away from its original Cairo venue] and agreeing on an afternoon kick-off due to floodlight issues, it would not be acceptable to renege on the conditions which all parties agreed upon, including playing behind closed doors.”
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) had imposed an indefinite crowd ban earlier this year in the wake of fan troubles in some regional and continental encounters featuring the so-called big three - Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily.
However, the fans of the three sides defied the ban, storming several army-owned stadiums in some Premier League games. The domestic competition was eventually called off for the second consecutive season due to the political turmoil that followed the army’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.
Ultras Ahlawy and Ultras White Knights, hardcore fan groups of Ahly and Zamalek respectively, said they would attend Wednesday’s Champions League game, raising the possibility of tough CAF sanctions.
Tunisia's Etoile Sahel were kicked out of last season's Champions League after their fans rioted during a group-stage game against compatriots Esperance. It was the first time a club has been expelled in the middle of the group stage.
Ahly are eyeing a second successive Champions League triumph, while success-starved Zamalek are chasing their first continental title since 2002.
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