Just 5 months were enough for Egypt’s Zamalek to lose two CAF Champions League titles, after their early exit this season from the group stage.
The white team who lived and toured during the last century, and won the title 4 times, did not crown it in the current millennium only once, specifically in 2002, and appeared after it periodically.
A resounding surprise
Zamalek bid farewell to the 2003 CAF Champions League early in the round of 16, after he was the first candidate to win the title for the second year in a row.
The surprise came at the hands of Simba, Tanzania, on penalties, after the two teams exchanged victory 1-0 back and forth, so that the “white knight” left the tournament.
More grueling exit
The following year, the exit was tougher for Zamalek, after the Rwandan army team ousted him early in the first round with a big win.
Zamalek achieved a fading 3-2 victory in the first leg at home in Cairo, but suffered a severe 1-4 loss away from home, to leave through the narrow door.
The third attempt
Zamalek did not give up and returned to repeat his third attempt to crown the title, overcoming many obstacles and reaching the semi-finals of the 2005 version, but he clashed with his traditional rivals Al-Ahly in the golden square.
Al-Ahly had an unbeatable team, and they won 2-0 back and forth, 2-0, to continue their path towards regaining the missing title since 2005.
And that version specifically witnessed statements from symbols and players of Zamalek, regarding the existence of a “conspiracy” to strike at the stability of the team after 4 golden years at all levels.
Zamalek affiliates cited the change of the club’s board of directors, the conflict that broke out between many officials, and the dismissal of the technical services more than once.
With the decline in the results and the level of Zamalek, the team missed the continental scene for two consecutive years, specifically 2006 and 2007, before returning to appear in the 2008 African Champions League, and renewing the clash with Al-Ahly.
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Al-Abyadh successfully made his way to the quarter-finals, but trailed the first group ranking with 5 points, after Al-Ahly, Zimbabwe’s Dynamos and the Ivorian ASEC, to bid farewell to the tournament again.
Return after an absence
Zamalek was absent again from the African scene in the Champions League in 2009 and 2010, and with his results retreating, he was forced to compete in 2011 from the preliminary round, and easily overcome the obstacle of Kenyan Olinzi Stars.
But one of the two Egyptian football poles clashed early with the Tunisian club in the round of 32, and lost the first leg 4-2, and his 2-1 victory in the second leg did not prevent him from reaching the final price.
New Continental Derby
Zamalek’s participation in the African Champions League continued, but he came out with the same scenario in the 2012 and 2013 editions, when he signed in the group stage with his compatriot Al-Ahly, who won the title during them.
In the 2012 edition, Zamalek were trailed in the second group after Al-Ahly, Mazembe of the Congolese and Chelsea of Ghana.
But the following year ended the season relatively better despite the exit, and finished third in Group A, behind Al-Ahly and Orlando Pirates of South Africa, and ahead of the Congolese Leopard.
The group stage complex continued to haunt Zamalek for the third year in a row, but this time it did not clash with Al-Ahly, who was competing in the Confederation Cup in 2014.
Zamalek is bottomed in the first group ranking, behind Mazembe, the Congolese Vita Club and the Sudanese Crescent, to lose the bet once again and frustrate its fans.
The dream is getting closer .. but
Al-Tawfiq finally found his way to the Zamalek players after suffering and a long absence, and the team reached the final of the 2016 African Champions League.
But the luck did not last long with the Egyptian team, which clashed with the strongest version in the history of the South African Sun Downs club during the final match.
In the final first leg, Zamalek lost 3-0, but its fans did not lose hope and rallied strongly in the stands of the Burj Al Arab stadium, back, but the 1-0 victory was not an intercessor to regain a title that has been absent since 2002.
Ghost groups again
In the following year, Zamalek embarked on a new adventure, but the team returned to the cycle of setbacks and bid farewell to the championship from the group stage.
Al-Abyadh was ranked third in Group Two, behind Al-Ittihad Algeria and Al-Ahly Tripoli of Libya, and ahead of Central United from Zimbabwe.
Then statements poured out from Mortada Mansour, club president at the time, who accused “the enemies of Zamalek with witchcraft and sorcery to obstruct the team’s march.”
Where is Zamalek?
For two consecutive years, Zamalek participated in the Confederation Championship, to miss the most prestigious competition at the level of African clubs.
After an early exit from the first round of the 2018 edition, the team was crowned champion of 2019 for the first time in its history, beating the Moroccan club RS Berkane on penalties.
But the question continued … Where is Zamalek from the CAF Champions League?
In the following year, Zamalek entered the Champions League as one of the strongest candidates for the title, and raised its shares after overcoming the two giants, Tunisia’s Esperance and Moroccan Raja, to reach the final match. But he clashed with Al-Ahly again.
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The final, known in the media as the “Final of the Century”, was decided by Al-Ahly 2-1, thanks to a deadly goal scored by playmaker Mohamed Magdy Qafsha.
The goal of Qafsha was known as “a judge is possible”, a comment that was made by the Tunisian Issam Chawali, who suspended the match at the time, so that the brown princess continued to support Zamalek.
Conspiracy or due exit?
Zamalek did not raise the white flag and returned to the continental arena in 2021, but the lackluster start in the group stage overthrew him early, and a late uprising did not intercede for him in hijacking the qualification card.
After Esperance drew with Mouloudia Algeria on Saturday evening, the two teams qualified together for the quarter-finals, while Zamalek, who was the events of the match, came out with a “plot” to oust him from the tournament.