Egyptian giants Zamalek are chasing their sixth CAF Champions League trophy, and to do so they have first to overcome the hurdle of newly crowned Moroccan champions, Raja Club Athletic. This weekend will see the semifinal first leg held in Casablanca, with the return leg scheduled a week later in Egypt.
Zamalek are well known for their faithful supporters who follow their beloved White Knights over the skies. They have always been one of the key factors behind every success achieved by the Cairo based Whites.
Ahmed Adel, fondly called 'Fondo' has been a supporter for more than 30 years.
"My uncle is the main reason I started supporting Zamalek. He used to take me to the stadium and when he played football with his friends who were all Zamalek fans," he told CAFOnline.com.
"I became addicted to Zamalek at a tender age. At school, I was regarded as the biggest fan. When I started going to the stadium on my own, it was my real pleasure," Adel, who works as Training and Development Manager in private Cairo firm added.
Zamalek has been blessed with scores of legends over their 109 years long history, and for Adel, it is difficult to pick his favourite of the pack.
"Since I started following football there is no single player I consider as my favourite. However names such as Ismail Youssef, Ahmed Ramzy, Gamal Abdel Hamid, Ahmed El Kas, Emmanuel Amunike, Hazem Emam, Mohamed Sabry, Abdel Halim Ali and Shikabala representing various generations come to mind."
Being in the stadium to rally behind his beloved side is enough joy for the proud 'Zamalkawy' as supporters of the White Knights are referred to.
"Every game that Zamalek wins brings me so much joy, but final games are the best moments especially when we lift a trophy, and being in the stands. I've been there on many of these moments, starting from the CAF Champions League final against Ghana's Asante Kotoko in 1993, and till last year's CAF Confederation Cup final against Morocco's RS Berkane," he explained.
Looking at this season's CAF Champions League semifinal, Fondo ranks it one of the toughest competitions in recent years.
"I believe all the four semifinalists have equal chances, especially that they are all former champions and have great history. I believe Zamalek's games against Raja will be decided on small details because both sides are exhausted after a very long and tough domestic season. Hopefully, Zamalek will be in the final as our target is nothing but the title."
Normally, 'Fondo' would have been the first one in stands to cheer for childhood club, but due to health restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the games will be held behind closed doors.
"This would be tough for everyone. Mohamed V Complex is a stadium well known for its enthusiastic supporters that back Raja and Wydad, and same for Zamalek and Ahly at Cairo Stadium. I believe due to those restrictions the chances are equal for each side either home or away, as all the teams are going to miss their supporters," he concluded.