Relive the memories when Egypt’s perennial rivals Ahli and Zamalek met in the African Champions League.
The 2005 semi-final
It was the last time Zamalek have made it to the semi-finals of Africa’s top club competition, during which the Cairo giants have been blighted by a barren run despite a splendid start to the millennium.
The Whites were already second-favorites thanks to two thumping 4-2 and 3-0 defeats to their arch-rivals the previous season, and a 5-0 league thrashing at Harras Hodoud just before the continental showdown was another demoralizer.
On the contrary, Ahli were enjoying a glorious era under the highly-successful Manuel Jose; a pre-match atmosphere that set the alarm bells ringing for Zamalek fans, who feared that another 6-1 nightmare might be on the cards.
The first leg kicked off with Zamalek playing as hosts at the Military Academy as Ahli - expectedly - took a double first-half lead through Emad Meteb and Mohamed Barakat after capitalizing on their opponents’ shambolic defending.
But the out-of-form Zamalek were relieved to avoid a hammering as veteran Hazem Emam came off the bench to reduce the arrears in the second half and give his side a glimmer of hope for the second leg.
Ahli had the chance to widen the gap when they earned a penalty near the end, but Angolan striker Flavio Amado - under-fire at that time for some unconvincing displays - was thwarted by keeper Mohamed Abdul-Monsef.
Notably, a large segment of Zamalek fans were delighted with the result, given their team’s patchy displays, to the extent that the-then chairman Mortada Mansour rewarded his players with bonuses for their ‘spirited performance’.
It was the other way around at the other side of the city, a fact that clearly embodies both teams’ conditions at that time.
Zamalek manager Farouk Gaafar played his wild card when he handed Ghanaian forward Junior Quaye a start hoping that his fine second-half impact in the first leg would help the trailing Whites.
But Ahli ace Barakat gave Gaafar’s men no chance and condemned them to another defeat, even though Zamalek were suffering shortage of options in their rearguard with natural defensive midfielders Ibrahim Saied and Moataz Eno playing as center-backs.
The livewire Barakat bagged a wonderful second-half brace - involving some terrific team moves - to compound Zamalek’s woes and ensure their exit from the Champions league.
Egypt’s top duo clashed again in the group stage of the 2008-2009 Champions League edition, with Zamalek still considered outsiders against their bitter foes.
But both group-stage encounters this time had a different significance than the preceding 2005 two-legged semi-final clash, thanks to a busy summer that saw both teams beef up their squads with some quality signings.
Moreover, Zamalek had just appointed German manager Reiner Hollmann - a former Ahli boss - in a move that added some value to the group opener and suggested that a more exciting derby is on the cards.
The likes of Egypt international Hani Saied - who was at the center of an infamous tug of war between both clubs - , Ghana hitman Junior Agogo and veteran midfielder Ayman Abdul-Aziz were the new big names in the Whites squad.
But Ahli were boosted by Egypt skipper Ahmed Hassan, who eventually made the difference in a memorable debut for the Reds.
It started when Zamalek bore the brunt of a howler from right-back Mohamed Abdullah as Ahli’s Gilberto robbed him before crossing for compatriot Flavio to head home his team’s opener.
But forward Gamal Hamza restored parity after the hour mark with a deflected shot, only for debutant Hassan to clinch the winner for Ahli with a freekick five minutes later.
Treika settles thriller
In the next game, Zamalek were recovering from a thumping 3-0 defeat at ASEC Mimosas and knew that they must beat their city rivals at Cairo Stadium to avoid another Champions League embarrassment.
But once again, a trade-mark Gilberto-Flavio strike opened the scoring for Ahli, who were then stunned by two goals from Hamza and the in-form Agogo.
But then came Abou-Treika - the man who could be labeled a Zamalek’s tormentor - to save the day for Ahli with a cool strike that smoothly went past the motionless Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed 20 minutes from time, ensuring a thrilling end to the game.
In a rare scene, the ever-smiling Abou-Treika looked angry after his goal and made a shut-up gesture to the Zamalek fans, before apologizing after the game.