Zamalek have only beaten Ahli once in the last four years, and Ahli players have started to gain the confidence that they can easily beat the White Knights whenever and wherever the two teams meet.
However, the last few weeks witnessed a number of developments suggesting that players’ and fans’ approach to Sunday’s derby might be a little different this time around.
Ahli have endured a bitter experience at the Club World Cup in Japan. The club lost their two games and finished last in the competition. The aftermath was even worse as several players lost both their self-confidence and form.
The Red Devils came back to Egypt only to receive another blow in the form of an Egyptian Cup elimination at the hands of Harras Hodoud. Few internal problems within the team started to surface, and there’s no doubt the players will enter the Zamalek game willing to make up for all the recent disappointments.
Ahli can win as much rescheduled league game as they can, but everyone knows that fans can only regain their belief in the team with a big victory over Zamalek.
Zamalek in their own right, have been suffering a number of problems since the start of the season. The sacking of German coach Reiner Hollmanne didn’t help in improving the team one bit, and the stunning exit at the hands of Bani Obeid might leave its mark on the club for a long time to come.
However, a derby win can be more than enough for Zamalek to register a new beginning. After losing any hope their team can ever beat Ahli again, club fans would be absolutely delighted to see their team beat Ahli for the first time in nearly two years.
More importantly, Zamalek players can see that Ahli are having the bad spell, and they will be striving to seize a rare opportunity where they can have the upper hand over their arch-rivals.
Ahli’s recent drop might be a blessing in disguise for Egyptian football fans, who wish to see a competitive Cairo derby game for the first time in many seasons.