Egypt’s sporting club, Al Ahly, winners of the last Premier league in 2011, defeated Ghazl El Mahalla with 1-0 as the Egyptian Premier League kick started behind closed doors after a one-year halt.
Despite last year’s Port Said mayhem that left over 70 “Red Devils” fans killed, Egyptians authorities were determined to set the field for the Premier league, Ahram Online news reported on Sunday.
After months of squabbling regarding the safety measures, a heavy security presence marked the return of the league.
Saturday’s game was hosted in a military-owned venue in Cairo Air Defense Stadium, which saw Ahly beat El-Mahalla in spite of loaning out their three talisman players.
Before the game started, Ahly skipper Wael Gomaa and his Mahalla counterpart Nasser Farouk read out a message to stress on fair play rules, a new trend being to dispel football tensions between rival supporters.
Following the victory, the Mauritanian forward for al Ahly, Dominique Da Silva, ripped off his jersey to reveal an imprinted vest that read: “we will never forget you” referring to the catastrophic Port Said’s victims.
According to Ahram Online’s report there were at least three police trucks, two armored military vehicles, a military police presence as well as 24 mounted police officers in front of the stadium.
Ahly’s arch-rivals, Zamalek, played against an Alexandrian-based club, Ittihad in the match held at the same stadium later in the day.
The game is the first domestic tournament since Ahly triumphed over ENPPI in September last year during the annual Super Cup. Due to high security concerns, spectators are not allowed to attend the matches in the first half of the season.
The league is organized in a new two-group layout due to lack of time.