The match was the first to be played since last February’s Port Said tragedy in which 70 Ahly fans perished after being attacked by hardcore supporters of rivals Al Masry. A section of the Ahly support, known as the Ultras Ahlawy, had asked that the Super Cup be delayed until the perpetrators of the violence were brought to justice, and they encouraged their members to “break into the stadium” in Alexandria so as to prevent the match from being played.
“No contest will be played before justice has prevailed,” read a post on the Ultras Facebook page. “Each and every one of us is ready to die before this match is played.” (Thanks to Adam Moustafa and kingfut.com for the translation.)
A social media campaign even called on newly-elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to step in and cancel the match, but on Sunday Morsi’s spokesman Yasser Ali dismissed any notion of presidential intervention, saying, “The presidency has nothing to do with staging or cancelling the Super Cup game…We call on all parties to engage in a dialogue for the sake of Egypt because the football industry is very important.”
Ultras Ahlawy withdrew their threat early Sunday morning, although demonstrators did manage to delay kickoff.
In an act of solidarity with the Ultras and their justice-first movement, Ahly and Egypt legend Mohamed Aboutrika refused to participate in the match. Aboutrika, a three-time CAF Champions League winner and one of the best footballers to have never played in Europe, has a history of political demonstration. At the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations he revealed a T-shirt that read, “Sympathize with Gaza.”
Following their 2-1 victory (Gedo scored a stoppage-time header to win the match) Ahly dedicated the Super Cup to, in manager Hossam El-Badry’s words, “the martyrs of the Port Said Stadium massacre.”
Originally scheduled to begin on September 17, the Egyptian league will now commence on October 17.
Almost there: The fast-tracked Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers continued over the weekend and produced a handful of interesting results. A late insurance marker by Domingues gave Mozambique a surprising 2-0 win over Morocco in the first leg of their home-and-away series and Tunisia had to twice come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw in Sierra Leone.
In Saturday’s most high-profile match Ivory Coast fought off a visiting Senegal side that twice took the lead to win 4-2 in Abidjan. Didier Drogba’s 80th minute penalty proved the winner and Gervinho, who pulled the hosts level at two goals apiece in the 65th minute, was named Man-of-the-Match.
Poor Kaká: You’ve got to feel for the guy. Real Madrid actively tried to get rid of Kaká during the summer transfer window and the 30-year-old former FIFA World Footballer of the Year has yet to appear for the club this season.
On Saturday Madrid manager José Mourinho, who has never seemed fond of the Brazilian, made a half-hearted attempt to explain why Kaká remained on the perimeter of his squad, saying, “What has happened to Kaká has happened before to many great players—stars who, for one reason or another, were not able to maintain the same level at new clubs.”
Galatasaray may yet offer Kaká a lifeline, and on Friday the manager of the Turkish giants, Fatih Terim, reiterated his admiration of the player, going so far as to say the ex-Milan playmaker would “be a perfect player for Galatasaray.” He also hinted that Kaká would likely have to accept a wage decrease before a move could be sanctioned.
Starting over: “Sometimes even good ideas turn out bad.” This is how Kevin Baxter led off his Sunday column in the Los Angeles Times, where he addressed the gloomy existence of local MLS side Chivas USA.
Baxter points out that, since joining Major League Soccer in 2005, Chivas have yet to turn a profit and, following the recent loss to Seattle Sounders, have not gone six weeks without a win. Attendance, he notes, has fallen to just over 13,000—a drop of 16.5 per cent from last season, which is the largest decrease in the league.
“All of which makes this the best time to declare the Chivas USA idea a failure and look for a way to start over.” He might as well have been writing about Toronto FC.
Baxter’s piece comes just over a week after Jorge Vergara’s full takeover of the club, and he speculates what the Mexican businessman, who also owns Chivas Guadalajara, plans to do with it. Relocation, he notes, is an option, and he cites Orlando and San Antonio as possible destinations.
Toronto’s situation is quite obviously more secure (Chivas attract barely 5,000 viewers to local television broadcasts whereas TFC are a sponsorship juggernaut), but it’s important to note, as Baxter does, the depths into which a team can plummet when it “waffles on its identity and struggles to find stability.”
D-bag quote of the day: Diego Lugano was left out of Paris-Saint Germain’s Champions League squad last week, but rather than express a desire to either leave the club or fight for a place in the lineup the defender had this to say to Uruguayan newspaper Ovacion: “My contract is really good…it was a decisive factor in [my] choice [to stay at PSG]. I live in France, I moved to a big club and my salary is high. So why bother [making a fuss]?”
Follow Jerrad Peters on Twitter @peterssoccer