Zamalek went into the Champions League final as champions of Egypt for the 11th time, and had lost just one Champions League game, the quarter-final second leg away to ASEC Mimosas. Raja also came first in their league. In the Moroccan League games between the two sides in the Champions League Final, They draw 0–0 at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, while Zamalek won 1–0 at Cairo Stadium in the return game on 13 December 2002.
The second Round matches represented the first time these two clubs had met in Africa . Zamalek went to Kitwe and secured a very creditable 2–0 win, before qualify to the Group stage of the Champions League, by drawing 0–0.
Zamalek were drawn in Group F along with ASEC Mimosas, Espérance and Costa do Sol. Zamalek won their first group game before securing a 1–1 draw away against Espérance, Zamalek as group winners and with the most number of points out of all the group winners, 13.
The semi-final pitted Zamalek against Mazembe; the teams had not met ever in the group stage of the Champions League tournament, the first time Zamalek won it. The first leg at the Stade de la Kenya was a drab affair, with Zamalek spending most of the game defending, whilst Mazembe tried to pass the ball around them. That was about as exciting as the first leg got for either team and it ended 1–1 thanks to a goal from Abdel Halim Ali. The second leg at Cairo Stadium was a game of higher tempo, which Zamalek won 2–0 and Hossam Hassan scored twice. This result increased Zamalek's consecutive home win record in the Champions League to 5 and ensured that Zamalek reached the final unbeaten except losing a match in the quarter-final second leg away against ASEC Mimosas .