African Football - Champions League games to go ahead in Egypt

Two key African Champions League matches will go ahead in Egypt at the weekend despite the bloody civil unrest that has claimed more than 1,000 lives since last month's military coup.

Reuters
African Football - Champions League games to go ahead in Egypt
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al ahli abo trika

Holders Al Ahli will play AC Leopards of the Congo on Saturday at El Gouna, a Red Sea resort some 350km from strife-torn Cairo, followed the next day by Zamalek hosting South Africa's Orlando Pirates, the Confederation of African Football confirmed on Sunday.

The two popular Egyptian clubs, who have dominated Africa's top club competition in the past, are both competing in Group A where Pirates lead at the halfway mark with seven points.

Ahli have four points along with Leopards and Zamalek are rooted to the bottom of the group with a single point.

Both games will be played behind closed doors at the insistence of Egyptian authorities, scared unruly crowds could lead to more unrest.

But the major concern will likely be extreme heat. A lack of adequate floodlights at the small stadium means both matches kick off at 4 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) in temperatures forecast between 28 and 38 degrees Celsius.

Ahli coach Mohamed Youssef suggested at the weekend he would rather have played outside Egypt than in El Gouna because of the heat.

"I'm really dismayed with the decision to play there; the pitch is so poor, temperature is high and air currents there affect our game," he told reporters.

Egypt's military are not allowing any football in Cairo or the country's second city Alexandria, where there are requisite floodlighting facilities.

Pirates did ask for their match to be moved to a neutral venue but were turned down by CAF.

The Egyptian league was cancelled after the military overthrow of president Muhamed Mursi's government and subsequent violence but participation in international competition continues.

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