Over the weekend, Egyptian football fans were treated to one of the most exciting friendly matches of the year. Facing off for only the third time in their footballing history was Egypt’s beloved Al Ahly vs Italy’s AS Roma. What started out as a funny Twitter conversation between Al Ahly sponsors Vodafone, Huawei, Coca-Cola and Juhayna quickly turned into a friendly challenge to recruit some of Al-Ahly’s diehard fans to help their beloved team take the win as they face their former footballing hero in the Emirates.It’s no secret that Egyptians love their football and, over the years, several friendly challenges have been organised against some of the best international clubs in a test of skill to prove that Egyptian clubs are as competitive as any other in the world. In the two previous matches between these footballing titans, each team managed to claim a victory.The question on everyone’s mind ahead of this tie-breaking game was, would the Egyptian Red Devils be able to overcome AS Roma with their former superstar playing against them? With the match set in Sheikh Hazza Stadium in the Emirates, Al Ahly sponsors came together and agreed to select 25 of the luckiest fans to loudly cheer, hoping to give them a competitive advantage of feeling like playing a home game, even if it isn’t taking place in Oum El Donia.


Upon boarding the Al Ahly fan bus in the Emirates, one thing became clear: these were among the loudest fans we have ever heard, chanting all the way to the stadium, preparing as though their wind pipes would convert to goals.Arriving to the beautiful Sheikh Hazza Stadium in Al Ain, you could tell that these fans have been missing the experience of going to a stadium to cheer on Egyptian teams as, in recent years, safety concerns have caused a ban on fans in Egyptian stadiums, which is thankfully is starting to be lifted. It was obvious as the 100 strong Al Ahly fans brought by Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Huawei, and Juhayna spent the whole time standing and cheering, to the annoyance of some in attendance who expect people to sit and quietly watch a football match. It was completely baffling how anyone could sit through this exciting match that kicked off with both sides scoring a goal within the first 20 minutes.The stellar Salah didn’t hold back, managing to bury AS Roma’s second goal in convincing fashion. Even though we were totally rooting for Al Ahly, it was nice to see the Egyptian sensation get on the board; however, had it been the game winner, we’d have sung a different tune. Taking the lead in the nail-biting second half, Al Ahly had the Italian club on their heels approaching extra time. We felt confident enough to stupidly post on Instagram that there was only two minutes until certain victory. However, we learned that the game is never over until that final whistle, and as we pressed post, AS Roma managed to tie things up at three-all with only extra time left to play. We totally felt responsible, and felt a comedic karmic universe laughing at us.


Incredibly, Egypt’s Red Devils showed their resiliency and, simply put, demonstrated they wanted the win more, wasting no time responding with a brilliant game-winning goal by Ahmed El Sheikh in extra time. It was unbelievable; the WWE couldn’t have written a better finish to this spectacle, and the second it crossed the line the entire stadium exploded with tears of joy and celebratory screams. Rest assured, no one was sitting. With that, the game ended, marking what could quite possibly be Al Ahly’s best game of the year, even if it was only a friendly.

No doubt it would be a win remembered by many for time to come, but the most encouraging truth was that, if this Egyptian club was able to defeat these Italian giants, then imagine what the national team could do with the stellar Salah on their side. Let’s be honest, they probably won’t win the FIFA World Cup, but after Egypt’s 26-year drought, making it to the tournament would be victory enough.

Media by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.
Photographer: Mahmoud El Beleihy.