Every football league around the world has its own Clásico; in Spain there’s little denying that Real Madrid against FC Barcelona is as big as it gets whilst Boca Juniors against River Plate gets the pulses racing more than any other fixture in Argentina. On Thursday the Egyptian capital city of Cairo will witness yet another clash between eternal rivals Ah Ahly and Zamalek and it should prove to be the most important encounter between these two clubs for quite a few years.
Although there is a huge gap between the number of titles won at home between these two sides, the Cairo derby still stands out because of the huge success that both these clubs have shared on the continental stage. Domestically Al Ahly (which means “The National”) have won 35 league championships and the exact same number of Egyptian Cups compared to Zamalek (named after the Cairo suburb) who have 11 and 21 respectively. In African club competition, however, both clubs have fought it out more evenly with both clubs having accumulated a massive eleven CAF Champions League titles (Al Ahly 6, Zamalek 5), four CAF Cup Winners’ Cup (Al Ahly 4, Zamalek 1) and nine CAF Super Cups (Ah Ahly 4, Zamalek 5) making them the two most successful sides in African club football.
Despite these numbers the derby has been slightly dimmed in recent years by Zamalek’s inability to fight it out for the top prizes at home and abroad which, in turn, has allowed Al Ahly to dominate the Egyptian league for the last six seasons. In the ten most recent league matches between these sides Al Ahly’s dominance is reflected by the fact that they have won five and have lost only one, Zamalek’s last victory in this fixture came in the 2006-07 season. But Zamalek fans can have hope that they can put their seven year title drought to an end as they currently top the table with thirty points from 13 games, a four point lead over second place Ismaily who have played a game more. Al Ahly, meanwhile, lie in fourth place six points behind Zamalek and a win in front of their home supporters would take them into second place so expect a tough fought encounter with more than just three points at stake.