Zamalek look to Future

Alaa Abdel-Ghani , Tuesday 19 Mar 2024

Egyptian football clubs Zamalek and Modern Future are pitted against one another at the start of the African Confederation Cup quarter-finals, reports Alaa Abdel-Ghani



It’s an all-Egyptian derby when Zamalek and Modern Future meet in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the African Confederation Cup.

Zamalek were champions in 2019 while Future will be aiming for their first title.

The first leg will be held at Al Salam Stadium, home of Modern Future, on 31 March before both teams face each other again on 7 April at Cairo International Stadium.

The winner will face either Stade Malien of Mali or Ghana’s Dreams FC in the semi-finals at the end of April.

Future experienced a huge scare when their forward Ahmed Refaat was hospitalised after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest on the pitch.

The player collapsed with two minutes remaining in Modern Future FC’s Egyptian Premier League clash with Ittihad on Monday night 11 March, the first day of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

The 30-year-old made his introduction shortly after the hour mark.

The match was immediately suspended after the severity of Refaat’s condition became clear and he was promptly taken to the hospital.

Refaat’s heart reportedly stopped for an hour before he was resuscitated.

A club statement read: “Ahmed Refaat’s heart stopped for more than an hour, despite all resuscitation attempts by the medical staff at Zamzam Hospital near the stadium before his heart rate improved gradually.

“We would like to call on the media to respect the player’s personal life as well as his health and ask the Egyptian football fans to pray for Ahmed Refaat to be safe and sound as soon as possible.”

Tests conducted on the player were negative and did not indicate that he had taken medications that caused the heart attack, his doctor said.

Footage of Refaat’s sudden collapse went viral on social media, prompting a slew of well wishes for the Egypt international.

Refaat made seven appearances for Egypt, scoring two goals and providing one assist.

A sports show host had announced on social media that Egypt’s Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah had informed officials of the Egyptian Football Association that he was sending a private medically equipped plane to transport Refaat to England for treatment. There were no further reports on Salah’s compassionate gesture. Refaat was a former team-mate of the Liverpool star.

The rest of the quarter-final draw produced interesting outcomes, with all four champions (USM Alger, RS Berkane, Stade Malien and Zamalek) avoiding each other in the quarter-finals. 

Libya’s Abu Salem are facing an uphill task against two-time champions RS Berkane of Morocco who are in search of a third continental title since their 2020 and 2022 triumphs. 

Nigeria’s Rivers United, who are yet to taste continental success, are up against reigning champions USM Alger who not only lifted the title last season but went on to defeat Ahly of Egypt in the Super Cup final. 

Champions of the 2009 edition, Stade Malien are back in the knockout stages of the competition and are aiming for a second title when they face Dreams FC who will be looking at causing an upset against their more fancied opponent.

In the more prestigious African Champions League, again in the quarter-finals, Tanzanian giants Simba FC go head-on against competition record holders Ahly. The Tanzanians are yet to taste continental success and will be looking at doing so at the expense of the defending champions who have won the tournament a record 11 times.

Simba will face Ahly in a two-legged tie with their first encounter taking place in Tanzania on Friday 29 March.

Simba, whose starting line-up can include up to eight non-Tanzanians, were surprise qualifiers at the expense of three-time champions and last year’s finalists Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

Opponents Ahly, who boast the leading Champions League scorer in five-goal Hussein Al-Shahat, and Petro are the two clubs who reached the quarter-finals without losing.

Yearning for continental glory since last tasting Champions League success in 2015, TP Mazembe of the DR Congo will prepare to welcome Angola’s Atletico de Petroleos to Lubumbashi in the first leg before travelling to Luanda for the return fixture.

Four-time champions and Tunisian powerhouse Esperance Sportive de Tunis are up against 1998 champions ASEC Mimosas who will be spurred by the Ivorians’ recent Africa Cup of Nations success a month ago.

Another Tanzanian giant, Young Africans, who fell short in last season’s Confederation Cup final, are taking on South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns who are desperate to emulate their 2016 success when they lifted their first continental title after beating Zamalek of Egypt 3-1 on aggregate in the title decider. Sundowns were also crowned the champions of last year’s first African Football League.

After Ahly, Mazembe have five titles, Esperance (four), and ASEC and Sundowns (one each).

* A version of this article appears in print in the 21 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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