Al Ahly clinch record 40th Egyptian Premier League title
There are only two club sides in Egypt: Al Ahly and the rest.
The side has now recorded 40 Premier League title wins. Three in a row. 11 in the last dozen years.
Have we seen superior domestic dominance in club football? Certainly not. Ahly's latest triumph comes with six matches to spare and 22 points above their nearest rivals Ismaily. Absolutely commanding.
Every year, Egyptians anxiously anticipate two major festivals: Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Due to symbolic religious relevance, they practically work all year in preparation for both. However, outside the religious scene, domestic football is a close second. S
Dominant from the start
Al Ahly was formed by Cairo Student Unions in the struggle against colonization over a century ago. Right from the word go, they have been successful. Ahly clinched the inaugural league competition in 1949, the first of nine successive national championships. This was followed by 13 barren spells. However, it's been a smooth cruise afterwards, being champions on 31 other occasions.
Aside from their astute league achievements, Ahly have claimed 36 national cups and 10 super cups. On the continent, they've had similar tremendous success. With a record eight CAF Champions League trophies, Ahly is the most decorated African side. On seven other occasions, they've picked up further CAF honours, including Confederation Cup and Super Cup.
Forty and still counting
Hossam El Badry's team were confirmed as the champions on Monday when a 0-0 draw between Al Masry and Entag El Harby gave them an unassailable lead. Ahly amassed a frightful 75 points from 28 games, losing just once. El Badry's charges offered an attacking flair and defensive solidity that marked a significant improvement from last season's somewhat dour approach. Offensively they were unstoppable with 67 goals and just 15 goals conceded.
Much of their success this season is owed to the fearsome trio of Walid Azaro, Junior Ajayi and Abdallah El-Said whose combinations have bamboozled opposing defences. Between them, they struck 35 times. Each with their own unique attributes. While Ajayi is adept at holding up play under pressure, unlocking defences with clever passes to overlapping teammates, El-Said dictates play with composed playing style, sending long balls upfield or deft defence-splitting passes. Yet Azaro's story is the most headline-grabbing. It's that of a striker who turned from zero to hero, having initially struggled to win fans over after a series of disappointing displays before exploding when it mattered most, striking fear into Ahly's rivals. He has notched 17 goals thus far - the most by any player.
How Ahly compare to the best
Scottish side Rangers hold the highest domestic accolades in the world with 54 titles. Closest to the Gers is Linfield, with 50 titles in Northern Ireland, then Uruguayan side Penarol who have picked 46. In fourth with six fewer is the Red Devils. Not Manchester City's overbearing neighbours, rather Al Ahly.
Yet it is the Egyptians and not Rangers who are the world's most dominant title winners. Out of 59, the Cairo giants have scooped a staggering 40 (a whopping 65%). On 11 of those 19 rare occurrences, the title has remained in the capital, with their city-rivals Zamalek.