|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
2 - 8 August 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
"The unikindect cut"
It has happened time and again in the history of Egyptian sports; just as we approach a major competition or event, we hire a new coach to miraculously whip the team into winning shape. If the team wins, we hail the coach, the team, the job he has done. If this coach fails, though, then he has had his day. The coach is always the scapegoat, and the players -- the federation and the nation's pride -- are the victims.
Football being the most widespread game on earth, so too, then, is the hiring and sacking of coaches in the field. Recently in Egypt, the scapegoat was head coach of the Egyptian national team Mahmoud El-Gohari. Even before FIFA -- the world football governing body -- announced its final decision regarding the replay of the Egypt-Algeria game -- officials, media and fans started sharpening their knives, cursing and blaming one, and only one person; Mahmoud El-Gohari.
Is Gohari really the only one to be blamed. We cannot deny that he made some mistakes in some matches, yet not all the mistakes. There are others to share the responsibility of Egypt's disqualification from the World Cup after being close to qualifying for the third time. The Egyptian Football Association and its inexperienced management team, the players for wasting opportunities and for their evident spurts of lack of enthusiasm, and the media for putting so much pressure on the players before crucial games.
We are not defending Gohari here, but just wondering if there is a person in Egypt more unhappy than Gohari about failing to qualify for the most prestigious football event in the world.
Did Gohari purposely drive the national team to defeat and disqualification? Was anyone more keen to become one of the 32 teams who will compete for the most prestigious title in the world than Gohari? Could anyone bear all the blame and find himself amidst an atmosphere of psychological pressure since he took over the responsibility of the national team and while he is on his way to prepare the team to the African Nations Cup finals in Mali by the beginning of next year?
We need answers to these questions from those who take the offensive line all the way. One important question we need an answer for is; what did these people expect from Gohari exactly?
Was he expected to step onto the pitch in Ennaba, Algeria where the last game was played and score the goal which was squandered by Mohamed Emara? Or was he expected to kick the penalty that Tareq El-Said sent into the post in the Egypt-Namibia game in Alexandria? What was he expected to do in the Egypt- Morocco matches which took place in Cairo and Rabat when the post and the luck stood against us scoring to victory? What is expected from a head coach who is dealing with an incompetent management team and a heritage of errors and faults in the system of Egyptian football history in Egypt.
No, this is certainly not a defence of Gohari as he is part of the team and its results, but we are pointing out to the rest of the reasons which some are trying to deny or forget. If the nation really cares about the future of Egyptian football, then we plan, critique and be objective. And regardless of FIFA's decision about the rematch, and regardless of whether or not Egypt qualifies to the World Cup, let's look ahead -- especially given that we will be facing an important continental championship, the 2002 African Cup of Nations. If we want to lead Egyptian football to succeed, let's be fair to ourselves and to others.
We should reassess and revamp the system, for the path we're on now is one to football fiasco.
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