CAIRO /SUPERKOORA: Egypt’s football leaders, with tacit governmental approval, have devised a split-competition format to establish the normalisation of league championship football in the country.
The country’s premier domestic competition was undertaken with a similar two-group format in the 1957-58, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1975-76 and 2012-13 seasons.
The Egyptian Football Association has drawn clubs in two groups of 11 which, notably, keeps apart the Cairo giants Al Ahly – the African champions – and Zamalek.
Group A: Al Ahly, ENPPI, Somouha, El-Dakhelya, Ittihad of Alexandria, Al-Rajaa, Arab Contractors, Gouna, Maqassa, El-Entag El-Harby, Ghazl El-Mahalla; and
Group B: Zamalek, Ismaily, Masry, Petrojet, Talae El-Gaish, Canal, Menya, Ittihad El-Shorta, Beni Suef Telephones, Wadi Degla and Haras El-Hodoud.
At the end of the season, five teams will be relegated and three promoted, leaving 20 teams for the subsequent season. The following season will see five teams relegated and three promoted, leaving 18 teams in the top league in the third season. The winners and runners-up in each group will qualify for the semifinal.
The start of the season has been twice delayed due to lack of coordination between the association
and security authorities.
Two successive seasons have been abandoned midway through as a result of security concerns. Competition was frozen in February 2012 after clashes in a Port Said stadium left 72 Ahly fans dead. Seventeen months later, yet another season was cancelled in the wake of violence left behind by mass protests over the ousting of elected president Mohamed Morsi.