The north African derby was brought to an end three minutes into stoppage time when Zamalek had a goal disallowed for offside.
The closing stages of Club Africain and Zamalek’s otherwise highly entertaining CAF Champions league match ended chaotically today when a large number of White Knights fans took advantage of the poor security situation at Cairo international stadium to invade the pitch after seeing their team disallowed what would have been the winning goal. Replays showed the linesman’s decision to raise his offside flag to be correct.
Pitch invaders were seen attacking match officials as well as Club Africain players who were attempting to return to the dressing room as it became clear that the game would be called off and that the Tunisians would qualify for the next round where they’ll face Sudan’s Al-Hilal. Meanwhile, it appeared that a portion of Egyptians who overran the pitch did so in order to protect Club Africain players from those aggressing them.
Club Africain attacker Aymen Soltani was reportedly taken to hospital but the extent of his injuries are yet to be revealed. Other players received relatively minor cuts, bumps, and bruises but are said to all have eventually made their way back to the locker room to find many of their belongings stolen. Visiting Tunisian fans are said to have been unharmed during the unfortunate incident.
Zamalek were leading 2-1 when the pitch invasion occurred and needed just one more goal to overcome Club Africain who had won the first leg by the score of 4-2 at Rades Stadium a fortnight ago. The visitors were playing a man down for much of the second half after defender Bilel Ifa received his second yellow card of the encounter.
The dramatic ending to the game marred what was otherwise an entertaining and suspenseful CAF Champions league match that featured some beautiful goals and skillful play on both sides. Doubly saddening is the fact that it occurred in a encounter reuniting two countries that were recently brought together in solidarity by their common goal to oust their dictators. In fact, Tunisian and Egyptian flags could be seen amongst both sets of fans during the game.
This disappointing development may have negative repercussions on the resumption of domestic league play in both Egypt and Tunisia. The Egyptian Premier League is currently scheduled for an April 15th resumption while the return of the Ligue Professionelle 1 is scheduled for April 17th. League officials and the Ministries of Sport in both countries will clearly be concerned by todays grave events as it becomes abundantly clear that a bigger police presence is required in stadiums instead of using inexperienced stewards as has been attempted recently.
The preceding fixture in Tunisia also saw some fans run onto the pitch but there were only two individuals who did so and they were escorted off the field by Club Africain players and stewards. The incident in Cairo saw a much bigger proportion of fans descending to field level resulting in violence and a bitter forfeit for Zamalek.