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Not the most globally recognised pair of clubs, perhaps, but as Alex Olliver wrote in Andy Mitten’s seminal work, Mad for It (p. 45), Cairo boasts “a footballing rivalry that can genuinely claim to dwarf Real v Barca and Boca v River Plate.”
He continues, “Al Ahly v Zamalek goes beyond fanatical. It is part football match, part political rally, part history lesson and generally a good excuse for the locals to hurl rocks at each other.”
Whenever the two Cairo giants—Egypt’s big two—meet, they don’t convene at either of their own stadiums, but rather at the 100,000-capacity national stadium in the Nasr City district of the capital. The bi-annual derbies are known as Likaa El Kemma, translated as "The Meeting of the Best."
Again, there are deep historical significances.
This is a rivalry that began from a socio-economic base; Ahly, meaning "National" representing the people, whereas Zamalek represented the more privileged portions of society. It became a political division in the 1940s, when supporting Ahly signified a Nationalist persuasion and supporting Zamalek a Royalist preference.
Recently, the two clubs’ supporters, typically hardened enemies, put their differences aside and joined forces to wage a street uprising against the authority of deposed president Hosni Mubarak.