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CAF Champions League Preview: Egyptian riots may affect Champions League kick-off

Security concerns surround Al Ahly’s Cairo derby with Zamalek as the CAF Champions League group stage gets underway this weekend.

Al Ahly will begin their continental-title defence against their domestic rivals on Monday.

The Egyptian Premier League champions increased their standing as the most successful African club in the continental competition in November, as they claimed their seventh Champions League title.

Their closest challenger in regards to most titles won, though, is their upcoming opponents and domestic rivals Zamalek (five).

Unfortunately for the fixture between the two African heavyweights, a venue is yet to be decided upon due to political riots in the Egyptian capital that has seen 92 people killed.

Given it is their home tie, Zamalek originally elected to host the match in Alexandria but authorities are now leaning towards shifting the Group A clash to El Gouna, more than 400 kilometres from the capital.

The CAF are still yet to approve of such a drastic venue change, days out from kick-off.

It is the second consecutive year the two clubs have met in the group stage of this competition, with their first match in 2012 played behind closed doors due to security concerns, while only 3000 were allowed in for the return leg.

The two clubs are also set to be involved in this season’s Egyptian championship playoff but that competition has been postponed until the civil unrest in the north African country is tempered.

The other Group A fixture sees Premier Soccer League side Orlando Pirates host Congolese club AC Leopards.

Pirates could benefit from the doubt surrounding games played in Cairo, as they are scheduled to travel to Al Ahly on August 3 but a neutral venue could be used if it is still unsafe.

In Group B, Cameroon side Cotonsport have been forced to postpone their fixtures due to their country’s football federation suspension from FIFA for government interference.

Cotonsport were due to open the tournament at home to Ivory Coast’s Sewe on Saturday but the fixture has been postponed indefinitely.

On Sunday, Angola’s Recrativo do Libolo host Tunisian side ES Tunis in Calulo.

Wed 17 July, 2013
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