Al Ahly - Egypt’s all-conquering powerhouse where winning once isn’t always enough

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A look at Egypt’s most successful club, Ah Ahly.

When you think of continued success in football you think of Rangers, you think of Celtic, of Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – but there’s a team in Africa whose dominance is almost unparalleled: Al Ahly.

This week the Egyptian giants lifted the Egyptian Cup for the 38th time, ten times more than their bitter rivals, Zamalek, and securing their first piece of silverware for the season. There’s a good chance it won’t be their last. They’re a point behind Egyptian Premier League leaders, Future FC, with four games in hand, are into the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League, and in May will play in the Super Cup final as they bid to win that for the 13th time.

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AFP via Getty Images

Nadi El Shayateen El Homr – the Red Devils – are the definition of longevity. Since their first title, the Sultan Hussein Cup in 1923, they’ve won 117 domestic trophies if you include the competitions that predate the current setup.

They’re also the only club to have won the CCL 10 times and CAF Super Cup eight times (both double anybody else), as well as playing more FIFA Club World Cup matches (22) than any other club. As a Sporting Club though, Al Ahly are bigger than just a football team.

They have teams playing handball, basketball and volleyball just to name a few, and upwards of 33 million followers across their various social media platforms. Al Ahly are a powerhouse, a colossus even. So well respected are the Egyptians that they’re consistently involved in some of Africa’s biggest transfer dealings, receiving seven figure (€) sums on numerous occasions in recent years. And spending them, too – in 2022 only two teams on the continent spent more on transfer fees.

In 2021 they paid out around £1.5m to Brighton & Hove Albion for South African attacker, Percy Tau, and he played his part in their cup victory over Pyramids FC on Monday to add their latest trophy to their cabinet. The winning goal was scored by Hamdi Fathi, another player who cost upwards of £1m. Success with the Red Devils is not just expected, but demanded.

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Sometimes even victory alone isn’t enough to placate the high demands of one of the most triumphant football clubs the world has ever seen. Just over two decades ago they were named as CAF’s ‘Club of the Century’, and though they’ve had almost 30 different managers since then the success has been continuous.

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Only a handful of them left Cairo without at least one trophy to their name, and current boss, Marcel Koller, may very well be on for a treble in his first season. Even that wouldn’t be anything new, Pitso Mosimane’s Ahly managed the same thing in 2020. They just win things.

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