Portuguese coach Jesvaldo Ferreira, Zamalek coach, repeated his complaint about the idea of participating in the preliminary round of the African Champions League despite being crowned champion of the Egyptian League, but the white team was not the first winner of the local competition title to participate in this role, as its rival Al-Ahly preceded it.
Zamalek participated in the preliminary round of the new season of the most important continental championship, and passed the Chadian Elect obstacle after winning back and forth with the same result (2-0), to set up a date with Flambo without Centrum from Burundi in the round of 32.
Ferreira expressed his complaint about the participation of Zamalek, who won the Egyptian League title last season, in the preliminary round, considering that he was supposed to be exempted from among the clubs that automatically qualified for the round of 32.
Although exempting clubs from playing the preliminary round is subject to the continental classification in the last 5 years, Ferreira complained about the matter 3 times.
Ferreira said in statements after the Eastern Company match in the last round of last season that he did not understand why his team participated in the preliminary round of the continental championship, while other clubs did not participate in it.
Ferreira repeated the same statement after the Saudi Al Hilal match in the Lusail Cup on September 9, where he said, “How do we play the preliminary round and we are the champions of the league? And the third-placed player plays directly from the round of 32.”
Ferreira also complained for the third time in the press conference after the return match that was held yesterday in Cairo, by saying, “I do not understand how the league champion played the preliminary round? I will speak at the appropriate time.”
And “Yalla Koura” explained in a previous report the reason for Zamalek’s participation in the preliminary round, despite the exemption of 6 clubs, including Al-Ahly, according to the regulations.
Ferrera’s surprise comes from the current situation, although Al-Ahly, his traditional rival, had previously participated in the preliminary round of the African Champions League, despite his participation as the Egyptian champion.
Al-Ahly won the Egyptian League title in the 2018-2019 season, and then participated in the 64th (preliminary) round of the 2019-2020 edition, when it overcame the obstacle of the “Outland” team from South Sudan.
Zamalek also played the same role with Al-Ahly in the same edition, where they defeated Dekedaha FC of Somalia.
Al-Ahly and Zamalek met in the final round of that version, in what was known in the media as the “final of the century”, being the first time that two teams from one country compete in this role, while the red team won the title for the ninth time in its history.
Why did Al-Ahly participate at the time in the preliminary round?
Al-Ahly participated in the preliminary round of that edition, according to its cumulative classification also in the previous five seasons.
At the time, 61 teams participated in the tournament, and the Confederation of African Football “CAF” needed to exempt only 3 teams, which are Congolese TP Mazembe, Tunisian Esperance, and Moroccan Wydad Casablanca, while Al-Ahly came in the fourth classification.
It happened that the conditions for Al-Ahly’s participation in the preliminary round of that edition were similar to the conditions for Zamalek to play the same role in the new season.
On top of it, the draw was held, which put Al-Ahly in the preliminary round, before the red team won the local league title, due to the extension of the season.
This happened in the new season as well, as CAF held the draw on August 9, before Zamalek won its second title in a row.
When did the Egyptian teams participate in the preliminary round?
Egyptian teams used to participate in the African Champions League, starting from the round of 32, but there were occasions when they had to play the preliminary round.
Zamalek is the most Egyptian team to play in this role, having played it 8 times in 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2020, 2023.
While the 2019-2020 season is the only one in which Al-Ahly played the preliminary round of the most important continental championship.
Enppi also participated in the preliminary round in 2006, Ismaili in 2010 and 2019, Smouha in 2015, and Misr El-Maqasa in 2018.