(VIDEO) A peak into the kind of intimidation Sundowns can expect in Egypt
The crowd at Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria for the second leg of the Caf Champions League final has been officially limited to 20 000‚ but with Zamalek desperate at 3-0 down against Mamelodi Sundowns‚ the big question is will the Egyptian authorities keep to that?
There is a past example of an attendance being limited to 20 000 by the Egyptians for a Champions League final‚ but on the day‚ a whole other matter materialising.
In 2013 that confinement was set for the second leg of the final at Arab Contractors Stadium when Orlando Pirates travelled to Cairo having drawn 1-1 in Johannesburg.
On the day‚ though – where Bucs lost the second leg 2-0 – the 35 000-seater stadium was bursting at the seams.
This video gives an indication of the level of noise‚ the lasers‚ the intimidation level that Pirates encountered that day – and gives an idea of what Sundowns can expect if the Egyptian authorities relent and allow in a bigger crowd at the 86 000-seater Borg El Arab Stadium on Sunday.
Filmed on my cellphone camera‚ it shows the Pirates players making what had become their customary pre-match walkabout on the pitch to the two nets during the 2013 Champions League.
For a moment‚ the Ahly ultras – their most hardcore fans‚ situated on the big left bank of the stadium – thought Pirates‚ in their red tracksuit tops‚ were the home side.
Soon they realised they weren’t and the noise level generated by the chanting and singing in unison of the supporters remains perhaps the most impressive thing I have seen in a football stadium – and I’ve covered a World Cup final.
League matches in Egypt are played behind closed doors as a result of the involvement of football supporters in the Arab spring revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011‚ and subsequent protests after military rule was established in 2013.
Most of that has taken place in Cairo.
The Egyptians may be comfortable enough in Alexandria‚ on the Mediterranean coast‚ 25 kilometres north of the capital‚ to allow a bigger crowd at the Borg El Arab.
The ultra-modern stadium with a superb pitch was completed at the time of‚ but just too late for‚ the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Situated 25km outside Alexandria – on the road toward Libya – crowd control will be easy there.
Mosimane will know the stadium well.
He was assistant coach to Ted Dumitru when Bafana were based in Alexandria for the 2006 Afcon‚ bombing out in the first round without winning a game‚ when the South Africans trained on the spanking new outer fields of the stadium.
Even a 50 000 crowd there on Sunday would make it a whole new ball game for a Downs side defending a 3-0 lead gained from an excellent performance at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday. - TMG Digital