The Red Devils, the record Champions League winners with eight titles under their belt, open their campaign away to Rwanda’s APR FC in the first leg of the competition’s round of 32.
Ahly, who won the last of their Champions League titles in 2013, are firm favourites to advance to the last 16 but it remains to be seen whether they would be affected by lack of domestic action after the Egyptian Premier League was suspended indefinitely last month amid doubts over its fate.
The league was put on hold after 20 Zamalek fans were killed of stampede after security forces tried to prevent them from attending a game against ENPPI at the army-owned Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
Ahly’s form before the league was stopped was also shaky, with the current crop of players unable to make their mark following the retirement of some key players, including Gomaa and club icon Mohamed Abou-Treika.
APR’s interim coach Vincent Mashami said he is confident his side can overcome Ahly in Kigali.
“I’m fully aware of the difficulty of facing a club like Ahly, but we need to win before the second leg in Cairo,” he was quoted as saying by Ahly’s website.
Ahly’s key midfielder Hossam Ghaly will be available for the game after recovering from a knee injury he sustained during his team’s loss to Algeria’s ES Setif in the African Super Cup. They will miss striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher as he has a throat infection.