Players and officials of Egyptian club Al Ahly finally left Mali on Thursday after they were trapped for days in renewed violence, and their request to push the return leg back two days was accepted by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
The Red Devils lost 1-0 to host team Stade Malien in the Caf Champions League during the weekend, but were unable to travel back to Cairo following armed clashes between the ruling military junta and guards of Mali’s ousted leader, which paralysed the capital Bamako and shut down the airport.
An Egyptian military plane airlifted the six-time Caf champions out of the city when the airport reopened on Thursday morning. The team was taken to the airport accompanied by Malian soldiers armed with machine guns, according to Reuters.
The chairman of Egypt’s National Council for Sports Emad El Banany and Al Ahly’s president Hassan Hamdy were among the dignitaries who welcomed the delegation upon their arrival in Cairo on Friday morning.
Nigerian side Sunshine Stars, who had also being blocked in a similar situation, have successfully flown out of the country.
A military coup in March deposed democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure and plunged the landlocked nation into an unprecedented crisis and time of uncertainty, with Touareg rebels controlling the northern part of the country.
Al Ahly have subsequently requested that their return Champions League encounter against Stade Malien be pushed back by two days to May 14 to benefit from adequate preparations since they were forced to spend four extra days in Bamako due to the political turmoil.
Caf have accepted the request, and the match against the Malians will now take place on May 14, the EFA said on its official website.