Derby Stories: Al Ahly vs Zamalek


Al Ahly against Zamalek is for sure one of the fiercest derbies of Africa and of the world. Both clubs have a more than 100 years history full of trophies and tens of millions of fans, making them not only the most popular clubs in Egypt, but in the whole African continent.

On the one hand, Al Ahly or “the club of the century” has 8 Champions League titles, but also the most championships and cups in Egypt, making it the most dominant form in the country. On the other hand, Zamalek or “the white knights” has less trophies in Egypt than its arch rival, but 5 Champions League trophies making it an equal competitor for Al Ahly.

Both clubs are based in Cairo and their rivalry is far deeper than just football, because both clubs have deep roots in the Egyptian society. Back in 1952, Nasser banned all the political parties, that’s why Al Ahly and Zamalek were not just football clubs, but the biggest political institutions of the country. Football was very important on the one hand for Nasser because it worked as a distraction for the population and on the other hand for the people, because they could express their political rights.

Futhermore, Egyptian politics have a very tight bond with football. Al Ahly was founded by nationalists having more fans on the lower social classes, always displaying a conservative and national identity. In contrast, Zamalek attracted fans more from the upper class, from the aristocracy and the intellectuals. In 2011 for the first time, the fans of these two clubs found out that they have more things in common than differences and they played an important role in the Egyptian revolution.