Ahly switch venue to accommodate 100 000 fans

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Not only will Saturday’s match be the biggest and toughest in the Tycoons’ existence – playing Al Ahly at home - but it will put the weekend’s Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in Mafikeng in the shade in terms of crowd.

The Egyptian champions confirmed today that they have been given the approval to move the game from the Military Stadium to Cairo Stadium, whose capacity carries up to 100 000 spectators.

“We have been given the green light to play at Cairo Stadium,” Ahly’s GM Moharram Al-Ragheb announced.

“We hope to gather our fans for the game, and we are confident that we can go through.”

Ahly, who reached the finals of the previous three Champions League editions, trail Stars by two goals to one, following a defeat in Pretoria last weekend.

The unexpected loss came a few days after Ahly were crowned Egyptian champions for the fourth successive season.

Stars’ coach Miguel Gamondi, who is knowledgeable in North African soccer, says the extreme heat of the daytime match significantly benefited his unsung side when they conquered a team containing major stars like Mohamed Aboutreika, Mohamed Barakat and Emad Moteab at Super Stadium.

However, the South Africans will not enjoy that advantage again this weekend as Al-Ahly normally play at 20h00 at home because the temperature in Cairo is 32 or 33 degrees.

Meanwhile, a section of Ahly fans believes that their goalkeeper Abdul-Hamid shoulders the blame for the defeat, although the 29-year-old doesn’t agree.

“I wasn’t responsible. I managed to block three clear opportunities from our opponents, two of them were one-on-one situations.

“Ahly’s defense is not solely responsible for the defeat, nor am I. As a team, we should all share responsibility for any outcome.

“Some people claimed that I wasn’t at my best during the match. They forgot that I’ve just returned from injury. I need time to regain match fitness.”