With the historic visit of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to the United Arab Emirates this week, 7Dnews explores the most important football connections between the two countries.
At the time of writing, Al-Ahly, Egyptian Premier League champions and African Club of the Century, have started their preparatory camp in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the start of the CAF Champions League group stage games.
Most of the Egyptian teams always make UAE their first choice for training and preparations before an important game, as well as holding closed camps there ahead of major events.
The United Arab Emirates has hosted three editions of the Egyptian Super Cup, with a large number of fans attending the games.
UAE hosts three editions of Egypt’s Super Cup
Ahead of the 2015-2016 Egyptian Premier League season, the UAE’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium hosted the Egyptian Super Cup game between Al-Ahly and Zamalek which finished with a 3-2 victory for the Red Devils over the Whites.
In attendance were 25,000 fans supporting their favourite Egyptian teams, as the two sides Al-Ahly and Zamalek also have a large number of supporters in the United Arab Emirates.
In the 2017 season, Aljazirah Club’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium hosted another Egyptian Super Cup game between Al-Ahly and Zamalek but this time the latter snatched the title after winning 3-1 on penalties after a goalless draw between the two sides.
For the third time in row, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium hosted the Egyptian Super Cup in 2018 between Egyptian Premier League winners Al-Ahly and Egypt’s Cup winner Al-Masry. The game finished with a 1-0 win for the Reds over the Greens.
Egypt hosts two UAE Super Cup games
Egypt hosted two editions of the United Arab Emirates’ Super Cup in 2016 and 2018, both held at the Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
In the 2016 season, Shabab Al Ahli Club defeated Al-Jazira 2-1 and snatched the title in Egypt with a large number of fans attendance.
In 2018, Al-Wehda snatched the title after beating Al-Ain 4-3 on penalties as the two sides were 3-3 after 90 minutes. This was also held at the Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
Clubs from Egypt and UAE co-sign MOU
Football teams from Egypt and the UAE have signed mutual co-operation contracts. Zamalek has deals with Al-Wasl and Al-Wehda, while Al-Ahly has the same deals with Shabab Al Ahli Club and Al-Ain.
A delegation from the UAE’s Al-Ain Club visited the headquarters of Al-Ahly in Egypt to discuss the tools of cooperation between the two big clubs in the future.
“Al-Ain’s delegation visited the club’s headquarters to exchange the sporting and social experience between the two management teams,” Al-Ahly executive director Mohamed Morgan told reporters after the visit.
“Al-Ahly management are proud to co-sign an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Al-Ain as they are one of the most important teams among the Asian and Arab clubs and they have a huge number of fans as well as brilliant management,” the Cairo club’s executive director added.
Egyptian players make history in the UAE league
Most of the talented Egyptian players have joined the UAE Pro League at some point during their football career, hoping to witness history during their time playing with the Emirati teams.
Egypt and Ismaili veteran midfielder Hosni Abd Rabou made an unexpected move during the summer transfer window of 2008 when he joined the UAE side Al-Ahli after signing a long loan deal for two seasons, refusing offers from top European clubs in England and Spain.
After his superb performance with Egypt national football team in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations as well as winning the tournament’s best player award, Rabou attracted the attention of most of European topflight teams including Spanish La Liga side Osasuna, but he refused the latter’s offer and joined UAE’s Al-Ahli instead.
Egypt national team icon Hossam Hassan, who wore the jersey of top Egyptian teams Al-Ahly and Zamalek, joined UAE side Al-Ain for the 1999-2000 season, where the striker scored three goals in 10 appearances, helping Al-Ain win the UAE Pro League.
Egypt's all-time highest scorer in Fifa World Cup qualification, Mohamed Aboutrika, joined the UAE’s Baniyas Club for one season on loan in 2013 coming from the Cairo giants Al-Ahly, scoring five goals in 15 appearances.
The BBC 2008 African Footballer of the Year helped Baniyas Club to claim the Gulf Champions League title in 2013 as he scored both in the tournament’s semi-final and final matches.
Former Egypt national team and Borussia Dortmund star Mohamed Zidan also joined Baniyas Club in 2012 when he scored 3 goals in only 9 appearances.
Zamalek star forward Mahmoud Abdel Razek Shikabala joined the UAE’s Al-Wasl in 2012 for one season on loan, scoring 7 goals in 13 appearances.