Egyptian giants Al-Ahly and SC Zamalek collide in Friday’s Caf Champions League final at Cairo International Stadium to decide who will be crowned African champions.
It’s not too far-fetched to suggest that this is the biggest match in the history of African club football, as the continent’s two most successful sides—and fiercest rivals—go toe to toe for the biggest prize on offer.
These two have been battling it out for decades, both domestically—for Egypt’s top silverware—and in the continent, contesting the Caf Super Cup in 1994 and numerous Caf Champions League knockout double-headers.
However, they’ve never clashed at this stage, and neither side can afford to fall short in this showdown between Cairo’s heavyweights.
|Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
|Friday, November 27
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
The game will be shown live on BeinSports
Squads & Team News
Both teams underwent coronavirus tests ahead of Friday’s final, and both will be without several key players after they tested positive.
Zamalek will be missing trio Abdallah Gom'aa, Youssef Obama, and Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh, with the last of these three already set to miss out after earlier being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Experienced left-sider Walid Soliman and Saleh Gom’aa will be absent for Ahly, while Mali international Aliou Dieng will also be missing for the Red Devils after testing positive, despite returning from an injury sustained on international duty.
One of the big talking points heading into the fixture has been whether or not fans will be allowed into the 74,000-seater Cairo International Stadium in the nation’s capital.
Earlier this week, however, the Confederation of African Football announced—in agreement with the Egyptian Football Association—that they had decided to play the match behind closed doors.
While the safety of the population amidst the coronavirus pandemic must be the top priority, it’s a bitter disappointment for fans of these two giants, who are missing out on a match that has the potential to be one of the most explosive fixtures in the history of the African game.
Nonetheless, expect a feverous atmosphere in Cairo ahead of the contest, and—for one set of supporters at least—in the aftermath of the bout.
Beyond the obvious context of a collision between these two eternal rivals, there’s also intrigue on the touchline, where South African Pitso Mosimane has made a strong early impression at Ahly after signing from Mamelodi Sundowns.
He won the African title with Downs in 2016—becoming only the second Southern African manager to achieve the feat—and would be breaking new ground for sub-Saharan African coaches if he can clinch gold on Friday.
He simply cannot afford to lose to Zamalek as they seek their first title since 2002, while Ahly last won gold in 2013.