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Football | CAF Champions League

Mohamed Barakat © Backpagepix

Cairo derby set to decide team’s fate



Egyptians giants Al Ahly and Zamalek will be eager for three points when they clash in a Cairo derby in their much anticipated CAF Champions League match in Gouna on Sunday.

Both sides are hungry for three points in this crucial encounter which is likely to give clarity on how Group A will shape up heading into the semifinal stages. Orlando Pirates and Ahly top the group on seven points each while Zamalek and AC Leopards following on four points each.

Zamalek were in dire straits before their match against Pirates a fortnight ago when they defeated the South African side. That victory- which was their first of the group stages after picking up one point in their first three games- has given them a slight chance of advancing into the last four.

A win for Ahly would seal their place into the semifinals of the competition while Zamalek would be automatically eliminated before the final group game.

The other two teams in the group, Leopards and Pirates will clash on Saturday. A win for Pirates in that match will all but seal their place in the semifinals while Ahly would need a draw against their traditional nemesis Zamalek to advance too.

The match in Egypt is set to be played behind closed doors this weekend. Ahly were handed a US$30 000 fine and forced to play their next two Champions League matches behind closed doors after their own fans clashed with each other during their 2-1 win over Leopards.

“The match will be very difficult after the last round’s results. Now all teams have a chance to qualify for the semifinals,” Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef said.

“Zamalek’s morale is very high now after they revived their hopes of qualifying by beating Pirates.

“The circumstances are not the same as the first round. Now, a single point can separate each team.

“The match will be very tough, but Ahly will win like last year when we were paired in the same group – we qualified and they were eliminated.”

The last time these two sides met they played out a 1-1 draw in their rearranged and relocated Champions League clash in July.

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