Zamalek’s gamesmanship and lack of reciprocation for the way their team were treated in Pretoria continued as the club would not issue tickets to the 140 travelling supporters of Mamelodi Sundowns for Sunday night’s second leg of the Caf Champions League final in Alexandria.
Sundowns have a 3-0 lead to protect at Borg El Arab Stadium from the first leg in Atteridgeville last Saturday.
In that match at Lucas Moripe Stadium Downs gave Zamalek 400 complimentary tickets to Zamalek‚ 40 of those for the presidential suite and 20 VIP.
However‚ on Saturday Sundowns’ commercial manager Yugesh Singh could not secure the reciprocal tickets for the 140 supporters Downs paid for to travel to Alexandria for the second leg at Borg El Arab Stadium.
Downs have been told that the supporters need to arrive at the ground and then will be escorted to a cordoned-off section of the 86 000-seater stadium.
Though even then‚ the club were vague‚ and said the Brazilians’ fans might be allowed in.
This follows the club having failed to make a ground available for Downs to train on when the team arrived in Alexandria on Thursday‚ meaning Pitso Mosimane’s players missed out on one training session.
Singh said in Pretoria Sundowns had “handed over the 400 tickets on the Friday before the game‚ without questions”.
“Here‚ we had the pre-match meeting with the general coordinator of the match‚ the match commissioner‚ and Zamalek tonight [on Saturday night]‚ which is where the terms of the match are agreed on and our tickets are handed over.
“Zamalek signed an agreement in Pretoria to hand us 400 tickets‚ 40 of them presidential. But now they are saying we should bring our supporters and they might let them in.
“We just want them to play fair and give us the tickets for our travelling supporters‚ the way we did in Pretoria.
“That way our fans can arrive at their own discretion. What if some of the fans arrive late? Or they could get to the stadium and some official tells them they don’t have tickets‚ so can’t get in.”
Singh said in Pretoria Sundowns even gave 200 additional tickets to the Egyptian embassy.
Mosimane was diplomatic at his final pre-match press conference on Saturday night about being denied a training ground‚ after Downs had seen to all Zamalek’s needs in Pretoria.
“We left on Wednesday evening. We landed on Thursday‚ and got a flight to Alexandria. We had a rest and thought we would train [in the evening]‚” Downs’ coach said.
“We didn’t train‚ because of the availability of the pitch‚ which was not there. We made a plan B to make sure we had a training pitch yesterday [Friday].”
Zamalek as a club might be giving Sundowns the runaround‚ but Downs’ fans have been given nothing but an enthusiastic greeting in Alexandria.
They have sung through the streets everywhere they have been gone‚ delighting onlookers and been asked to pose for countless photos.
Death threats might have been made by some Zamalek supporters on social media to Sundowns’ players before they departed‚ but in Egypt the team and its fans have been warmly welcomed.
Many Al Ahly supporters have told Downs’ fans they will support the South African club‚ and celebrate with them should the Brazilians beat Ahly’s Cairo arch foes Zamalek on Sunday night.
* Marc Strydom is in Egypt as a guest of Mamelodi Sundowns
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