Preview: Egypt's Ahly aim to top group, Zamalek seek to save face

Ahram Online, Saturday 21 Sep 2013

Already-qualified Ahly will be looking to finish on top of Group A when they visit South Africa's Orlando Pirates on Sunday; Zamalek aim to face save against Leopards

Orlando Pirates vs Ahly
South Africa's Orlando Pirates crushed Ahly 3-0 in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna in their previous Group A meeting last month(Photo: Ahram)

Egypt's Ahly enjoy the luxury of merely playing for a top finish to their African Champions League Group A campaign but arch-rivals Zamalek, struggling at the bottom, need to save their face after a dismal run saw them wave goodbye to the competition.

Already-qualified Ahly meet South Africa's Orlando Pirates away from home while Zamalek host Congo's AC Leopards in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna on Sunday.

Orlando Pirates and Leopards, who both seven points, are vying for the second Group A ticket to the semis after Ahly (10 points) ensured their progress with one match to spare following an impressive 4-2 victory over Zamalek in the Cairo derby.

Zamalek's defeat enraged their success-hungry supporters and left them at the bottom of the group with four points from five games, extending their barren run in Africa's elite club competition to 11 years, having won the last of their five titles in 2002.

Their hardcore fans were involved in clashes with security forces after staging a protest in front of the club's premises on Thursday as they demanded the resignation of chairman Mamdouh Abbas, a life-long Zamalek fan who failed to turn around their fortunes during his tenure in office.

Zamalek will be only playing for pride when they host Leopards but even a win is highly unlikely to sooth the anger of their fans.

"The blood of the loyal Zamalek fans spilled the club's ground … and the hospitals were filled by injured fans who were targeted by gunshots, birdshots and tear gas from Abbas' thugs and the interior ministry, their main sponsors," Zamalek's main fan group, Ultras White Knights, said in a statement.

"The thug and his board lost their legitimacy … be patient Zamalek, we will cleanse the club."


Ahly need a draw to advance as the group winners but they will be also looking to claim all three points to avenge a stunning 3-0 defeat by Orlando Pirates, their heaviest home loss in their Champions League history.

"A win will be important to secure our place as Group A leaders," said Ahly's rookie coach Mohamed Youssef, who is tasked with helping the Red Devils retain the title they won last year under Hossam El-Badry.

Youssef is considering resting veteran defender Wael Gomaa and defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour, who could miss the semi-final first-leg tie if they pick up yellow cards against Pirates.

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