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Super away
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 06 - 10 - 2015

For the first time in the history of Egyptian football, the Egyptian Super Cup will be played outside the country. Dubai in specific is the city that will host the game between the two biggest teams in the country – Ahly, who qualified as runners up of the cup, and Zamalek, the winner of both the domestic league and the cup.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) confirmed that the game will be played in Dubai, in the UAE, even before knowing the team that would face the league winners Zamalek to make sure they avoided any talk of unrest between the fierce rivals. The EFA also made it clear that the game will be played in Dubai for marketing reasons and not for security considerations. “The game will be staged in Dubai for marketing purposes and not for security reasons as some people claim,” said EFA board member Mahmoud Al-Shami.
The EFA will thus be following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia who had their super cup played in London earlier this year. “Staging a Super Cup match abroad is not a novel concept and there are many countries that have made such a move such as Saudi Arabia who will play their Super Cup in London this year,” added Gamal Allam, EFA president. In recent years even the Italian Football Association decided to play their super cup in Libya and China for marketing reasons as well.
The game between the two Egyptian giants is expected to be played in front of a full house, given that around 400,000 Egyptians live in the UAE at the moment and surely most of them will be very excited to know that the biggest two teams in Egyptian football will be playing a game of such importance there. The move was praised by many people in Egypt for two reasons. First, there are no better teams to represent or market Egyptian football abroad than Ahly and Zamalek, especially in a country that has so many Egyptians living in it. Second, this is the first time in an extremely long time that Ahly and Zamalek will play in front of a full house stadium. For various reasons in the past, starting with the Egyptian revolution of 2011 to the Port Said soccer riot of 2012 in which 72 fans were killed, Egyptian football was hit hard by the absence of fans from matches because of safety concerns. The near empty stadiums certainly affected the level of performance of the clubs as well as the national team.
Amr Wahbi, the manager of Presentation Sport, the company sponsoring the Egyptian Super Cup, announced the details related to the game in a press conference earlier this week. The game will be played on Thursday 15 October in Abu Dhabi with the Egyptian FA taking care of the technical issues and Abu Dhabi sports assembly taking care of the organisational part of the game. 15 October will be the Islamic New Year, an official holiday which should boost attendance even more.
The two teams will be entitled to take 40 people each to Dubai with the departure date on 12 October and the return date on the 16th. Both teams have the option of choosing between nine fields for training, with both of them entitled to a training session on the 14th at the Hazaa Stadium which will host the game. Tickets will be sold online with prices starting from 50 dirhams and going up to as high as 700 dirhams, Wahbi said. The dirham is worth LE 2.13.
The winner of the game will get $350,000 while the losing team will get $150,000. Zamalek will be considered the home team as the rules state that the winner of the league is always considered the home team.
Ahly will surely be seeking revenge after losing to Zamalek 2-0 in the cup final in addition to earlier losing the league title to their cross-town rivals. Zamalek, on the other hand, will be hoping to seal the treble to put the icing on the cake after an incredible season, albeit marred following Saturday's semi-final departure from the African Confederation Cup.


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