Al-Ahram Weekly Online   19 - 25 February 2009
Issue No. 935
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Signed on the dotted line

Ahmed Morsy sees whether the Egyptian football winter transfer season was affected by the world economic crisis or by the ebb of talented players

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Azmi; Gaafar; Mido

For the first time in several years, African champions Ahli and rival Zamalek participated only mildly in the winter transfer window of the domestic league this season. The rest of the clubs, though, entered with their wallets wide open.

The winter transfer market was expected to be hotter since a number of clubs will hold elections next summer, making it difficult to conclude such super deals if they want to strengthen their respective teams next season.

The season ended with relatively little movement compared to past years. The financial crisis did not have an effect on the Egyptian clubs since most of them are state-owned or owned by companies in which the government has majority holdings in them.

After the Club World Cup failure in Japan late last year, Ahli were expected to rejuvenate their squad by getting rid of some players and buying others especially after Ahli coach Manuel Jose requested a new goalkeeper, defender and striker. But Ahli signed only two players, the first being Egyptian U-21 striker Mohamed Talaat for three years. Talaat started his career at Port Fouad after which the 20-year-old striker moved to the Emirates where he played for Ahli Dubai's reserve team.

Olympic defender Attiah El-Belkasi will join Ahli after the end of this season for LE800,000. Olympic will get Ahli youth players Mustafa Talaat and Ahmed Abdel-Rahman on loan until the end of the season.

Zamalek, too, were expected to sign new players to recharge their batteries. Ivorian striker Olie Koffi, from Societe Omnisports, signed for Zamalek for $75,000. Koffi, 24, spent last season on loan with Ivorian giants Africa Sports, where he helped them win the league title. He is a junior international, and was the Ivorian league's second top scorer with 16 goals in 23 games.

Defender Ibrahim Salah and striker Mohamed Morsi signed for Zamalek from Mansoura in a four-year deal. Mansoura will receive a fee of LE1.3m for Morsi who will be paid LE200,000 for the rest of the current season, and 400,000 next season, with an increase in his contract's worth over the coming years if the striker excels for Zamalek.

Morsi had been a major part of Mansoura's Egyptian Cup campaign, where he scored four times before his team lost to Petrojet in the quarter-finals.

Also going to Zamalek is left-back Sabri Rahiel from Maqasa Club for LE250.000 for four years. Since he is only 20, Rahiel was signed in Zamalek's youth team.

Ismaili signed seven players in January's transfer season. After his one-year loan spell at Chinese club Zhejiang Lucheng, Mohamed Mohsen Abu Gresha rejoined his old club and signed a new three-year contract without conditions. Ismaili also signed the Sudanese side Hilal and Mozambique defender Dario Khan to a two-year contact.

The coastal club stepped up their interest in Khan upon the recommendation of their Brazilian coach Ricardo Ferreira, who left Hilal to take charge of Ismaili.

Khan, 24, established himself as a key player in Hilal's squad since joining from Mozambican club Ferroviario de Maputo in 2004. He is also a regular member of Mozambique national team.

The dervishes also netted Nigerian striker Nasigba John-Jumbo on loan for six months from the Canal club and midfielder Mahmoud El-Nadi from Police Union in a one-and-a-half year deal. The 28-year-old played for Spinning Mehalla and Suez Cement before joining Police Union early this season.

Former Ahli youth player Mohamed Hegazi 'Mando' joined Ismaili on a six-month loan from Belgian third-division side KV Turnhout. Abdel-Hamid Sami and Walid Hassan joined Ismaili from Dakhliah Club after signing a three-year contract.

Elsewhere, Ahli midfielder Hassan Mustafa has joined Police Union on loan until the end of the season. Mustafa has only appeared once for Manuel Jose's side this season, and was excluded from this year's CAF Champions League squad list.

The combative midfielder spent most of last season on loan with Saudi Arabia's Al-Wehda, where he enjoyed a successful stint.

Police Union also signed defender Mahmoud Mahmoud from Egypt Telecom, defender Mohamed Naguib from Baladeyet Mehalla, defender Tamer Hassan from Al-Shams, striker Mahmoud Abdel-Rahman from Minya and forward Minusu Buba from Enppi.

Al-Gaish attracted Zamalek midfielder Mohamed Ibrahim, midfielder Ahmed Fahmi from Baladayet Mehalla and Mohsen Hendawi from Spinning Mehalla, all on loan.

In Spinning Mehalla, forward Amr Allam joined the team from Petroleum Assiout, as did goalkeeper Wa'el Ismail from Aluminium, forward Ekrami Hassan from Suez Cement and striker Ahmed Abdel-Aziz from Enppi. Midfielder Gomaa Mashhour moved to Spinning Mehalla on a loan from Al-Gaish.

Petrojet took Zamalek defender Karim Zikri for LE900,000 and Ghanian strikers Cofie Bekoe and Eric Bekoe.

Olympic settled for former Egypt striker Walid Abdel-Latif on a free transfer until the end of the season for LE120,000. Abdel-Latif, 31, has not played since an unsuccessful spell at Ismaili in 2007, which eventually saw him released by the Dervishes. The veteran striker won three league titles with Zamalek, in addition to the CAF Champions League in 2002.

Olympic are aiming to strengthen their squad in an attempt to avoid their highly-expected relegation this season. They hooked Said Samir from Baladayet Mehalla, Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim from Al-Gaish, Ahmed Nour from Abu Keir Fertilisers, Ahmed Kamal and Mustafa El-Zamrani from Ahli.

Tersana signed left-back Tarek El Sayed from Egypt Telecom, Yousef Hamdi from Al-Gouna, Amr Samaka from Kuwaiti Kazma and Islam Taher from Ismaili.

Arab Contractors brought in Mohamed Ahmed from Emirates club Ras Al-Khaima.

Former Ahli midfielder Mahmoud Samir, Suez Cement Wissam Ismail, Enppi's Fouad Salama and Mohamed Younis, and Petrojet's Fathi Mousa joined Egypt Telecom.

Former Zamalek striker Mustafa Gaafar joined Enppi on a four- and-a-half year deal for LE1.3 million. He will be paid LE500,000 in return for his services for the remainder of the season, and will get another LE800,000 next season.

Enppi also singed the Ivorian striker Zeka Goori on a free transfer after his contract was terminated by UAE's Al-Wasl. Goori penned a four-and-half-year contract with Anwar Salama's side. The player played for three teams in the same season which is banned by FIFA whose regulations state that no player is allowed to play for more than two clubs within the same season, meaning Goori's participation against Petrojet in the cup semi-final was illegal. Consequently, the Egyptian FA suspended the player until the end of the season.

Ittihad signed seven players: Amr Samir from Ismaili, Hassan Moussa from Al-Gaish, Mohamed Ragab from Petroleum Assiout, Mohamed Gaber from Misri, Awuley Quaye Junior from Saudi Arabia's Ahli, Abdel-Razek Ibrahim from France's St Etienne and Esam Bakr from Al-Waldayah.

Cup champions Haras Al-Hedoud had no new transactions.

Zamalek skipper Ayman Abdel-Aziz joined Konyaspor on loan till the end of the current season. Veteran midfielder Abdel-Aziz, who returned to Zamalek last summer after spending eight years playing in the Turkish Super Lig, returns to Turkey to join his new team.

Amir Azmi joined Larnaca in Cyprus on a six-month deal after terminating his contract with Turkish side Hacettepespor.

Hossam Ghali signed a three-year contract with the Saudi League club Al-Nasr. The Egyptian international had fallen out with Tottenham fans after an incident which saw him throw the team's kit in a Premiership game against Blackburn Rovers in 2007. However, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp recently tried to resurrect the player's career at White Harte Lane, but Spurs fans showed grudges against the player on more than one occasion.

The 27-year-old, who had a short loan spell at Derby County last season, joined Tottenham in 2006.

Egyptian defender Beshir El-Tabie was released by Bursaspor just two weeks after joining the Turkish club after they decided to terminate his contract after the club brought in a defender from Besiktas.

In France, Egyptian full-back Ahmed Abu Mosallam has sealed an extendable six-month loan deal with Ajaccio from second division rivals Strasbourg. The 27-year-old was keen to leave Strasbourg because he featured for the second tier only minutes over the past 18 months.

Premiership Wigan signed Ahmed Hossam "Mido" from Middlesbrough on loan until the end of the season. The 25-year-old Egyptian striker's move saw him link up with his international colleague Amr Zaki.

Mido began his career at the club Zaki has been loaned from, Zamalek, and also played at Ajax, Celta Vigo, Marseille and Roma, before joining Tottenham four seasons ago. He has also scored 19 goals in 48 appearances for Egypt.

Mido scored four goals for Middlesbrough while Zaki's stunning impact in his first Premiership season saw him notch 10 goals to lie third in the scorers' chart.

Walid Suleiman, playmaker for Petrojet, went to Ahli Jeddah on a six-month loan worth $500,000.

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