Kaizer Chiefs’ opponents in the 2020-21 CAF Champions League Final, Al Ahly of Egypt, are the tournament’s most successful team, having been crowned African champions a record nine times.
But while Al Ahly have faced South African opponents 23 times in the tournament, next Saturday’s final on 17 July at Casablanca’s Mohammed V Stadium will be the first time two of the continent’s most supported teams meet in the CAF Champions League competition.
Al Ahly and Chiefs did meet in the 2002 CAF Super Cup, after the Egyptians won the 2001 CAF Champions League and Chiefs the 2001 CAF Cup Winners Cup.
Al Ahly won that game 4-1, but the teams have never previously crossed paths in the CAF Champions League competition.
Al Ahly have faced a number of South African clubs in the competition, Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town, SuperSport United, Bidvest Wits and Platinum Stars, but never Chiefs.
Amakhosi first competed in African club competition in 1993, when they took part in the African Club of Champions Cup, the precursor to the CAF Champions League.
They met Al Ahly’s rivals, Zamalek, in the second round over two legs. Amakhosi shocked the tournament favourites and had them chasing shadows in the first leg at Soccer City on the 16th May 1993, as Chiefs dominated and won the game 2-1.
Crucially though Chiefs conceded an away goal in Egypt and lost the second leg 1-0, exiting the tournament on away goals after the game ended 2-2 on aggregate.
It would take another eight years before Chiefs again faced an Egyptian team in continental competition. That came over two legs in the quarterfinals against Ismaily in the 2001 CAF Cup Winners Cup, with the first game on the 9th September 2001 ending 0-0 at Ellis Park.
The visitors threw their hands up and celebrated as though the job was done at the end of the game, Chiefs, however pulled off a 1-1 draw in the return second leg away from home, with Arthur Zwane scoring the vital away goal which saw Chiefs go through to the semifinals and eventually win the title.
That victory in the 2001 CAF Cup Winners Cup allowed Chiefs to meet Al Ahly in the 2002 CAF Super Cup on 15th March 2002, over 19 years ago now.
Games against Egyptian teams have been very rare for Chiefs in the CAF Champions League, with the meeting against Al Ahly just Chiefs second against Egyptian opponents in the Champions League and the first since 1993.
The Amakhosi showed against Zamalek that they can stun anyone on their day and they will be looking for what will be a massive victory should they overcome Al Ahly and be crowned African champions for the first time.
In all CAF competitions the meeting with Al Ahly will be Chiefs sixth game against an Egyptian team.
Of their previous five matches they have won one, drawn two games and lost two games, with the Amakhosi putting up a good showing against teams from Egypt.
For Al Ahly in their previous 22 games against South African teams in the CAF Champions League they have won 13 games, drawn 6 and lost 3 matches,.
This will be Al Ahly’s third Champions League final against a South African team. They previously defeated Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates in the 2001 and 2013 finals.
For Chiefs the game against Al Ahly will be their first CAF final against an Egyptian team.
Having won the first leg of the CAF Champions League semi-finals against Wydad Casablanca at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca just a few short weeks ago, Chiefs will be hoping they can win again on their return to the 67 000 seat venue for this massive one off final.