Apart from the first encounters that Zamalek had with a Nigerian club, Shooting Stars in the months of September and October 1976, the ‘Whites’ as the affluent Egyptian club is called, have always subdued Nigerian clubs in the continent.
They just performed one of such last Sunday with a 4-1 annihilation of Nigerian champions, Enugu Rangers. The record book is littered with carcasses of Nigerian clubs massacred by Zamalek.
The list begins with Shooting Stars beaten home and away in the final contest of the then African Champions’ Clubs Cup in 1984. Zamalek repeated the act in the very last edition of the champion clubs’ cup in 1996 – a tie that was decided on penalty kicks after each leg ended 2-1 in favour of the home side.
Fast track to 1993, Zamalek eliminated the fanatically supported Super Stores in the semi-finals and in 1999 eliminated Kwara United at the quarter finals stage of the 1999 edition of the now discontinued CAF Cup.
Added too are the home and away defeat of Enyimba in the last year’s CAF Champions League, one is convinced that Zamalek have undoubtedly become the albatross of Nigerian clubs. Should such continue?
It does not just stop there. The sprawling Cairo city has not also been a good hunting ground for Nigerian clubs and even the national team. In 22 encounters of Nigerian clubs in Cairo, only the defunct Dolphins broke an apparent jinx with a 1-0 defeat of Arab Contractors in the 2005 CAF Confederation Cup.
Otherwise, Nigeria’s best results were the drawn games achieved by Julius Berger in a 1-1 tie with Al Mehalla in the 2003 African Winners Cup and Kano Pillars’ 2-2 draw with Al Ahly in 2009.
These scenarios are not presented to paint a doomsday for Enugu Rangers in the return leg. Rather, it is to tell them that courageous teams have performed courageous acts which can be replicated.
Even Enugu Rangers have done it in the past, overturning a 1-3 loss to Al Mehalla in 1975 with a 3-0 win in Enugu. Another 3-0 win is desirable.
Shooting Stars did it to Zamalek in 1976 by cancelling a two goal deficit. So also the Ibadan side did in the semi finals of the inaugural CAF Cup in 1992, overturning a two goal deficit inflicted by Tunisia’s CA Bizerte despite that some of their key players had escaped into Europe while in transit in Rome.
You may term those acts as ‘miracle’ in football. Just as miracle is not limited to the Bible era, so also it is not limited to ancient football era.
FC Barcelona, even with greater hurdle than what Enugu Rangers currently faced, did the incredible. Rangers can replicate that this weekend if they are willing. Turn Zamalek to PSG this weekend!
Remember a line from a video released after last week’s epic Barcelona feat: “Passion is the genesis of genius.”