Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1292, (21 - 27 April 2016)
Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Issue 1292, (21 - 27 April 2016)

Ahram Weekly

They deserve better

Some of Egypt’s overseas players are apparently not getting enough recognition back home. Marawan Zayed reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

The question has been asked by many Egyptian fans since Hector Cuper took over as Egypt’s coach of the national football team: why, out of many of the country’s stars who play abroad, he uses regularly only Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Al-Nenni? True, Salah is in Roma and Al-Nenni in Arsenal, two giant clubs in Europe. But there are others who are right behind or on par in quality.

Ahmed Al-Mohamadi, who used to be a starter for the national team, has been frozen out in recent months and has not been able to return. Argentinean Cuper made it clear more than once that Al-Mohamadi’s style of play doesn’t fit into his plans despite the player’s ability to both defend and attack effectively as he showed for his side Hull City over the years. Admittedly, Al-Mohamadi has been in and out of the starting lineup of his own team lately but he lost his place on the national team before losing his guaranteed starting place at Hull City.

Al-Mohamadi might be the most notable absentee from our overseas players but players like Ahmed Hassan Kouka and Amr Warda can also argue that they are not being appreciated by Cuper. Kouka is arguably one of the best strikers in the Portuguese league and was set to sign for Benfica last summer before controversially failing his medical due to a heart problem. He signed for Braga instead and is having a fantastic season so far, scoring 13 goals, nine from 16 appearances in the league, three in nine Europa League appearances and one in three cup outings. Kouka’s international record is even more impressive as he scored five goals in just seven games, with two of these games coming off the bench. However, all the stats have not helped Kouka make a name for himself back home. He is definitely and without doubt the best Egyptian striker by some distance yet Cuper doesn’t seem to agree. Only 23, Kouka is far from calling it quits. He has everything needed to be Egypt’s new Emad Meteb if given a proper chance. Yes, Kouka started against Nigeria in the first leg but was hugely isolated up front and failed to get any service throughout the match which meant he could not put his mark on the game. However, leaving him out of the 18-man squad for the second leg surely shook his confidence, believing, perhaps, that the coach does not trust his abilities to even come off the bench.

Still in the Portuguese league we have another player who apparently is also not recognized enough back home and lost his place on the national team some time ago: Ali Ghazal of Nacional. Ghazal played for Egypt only three times and even though he would be the first to admit he did not have the best of times in these three games, he must surely be disappointed that he has been omitted from the national line-up since.

As for Warda, he might not be the most famous name in Egyptian football at the moment but he has been exceptional since signing for Greek side Panetolikos last summer, scoring five league goals in 26 outings and setting up another seven goals. His impressive performances with his new club earned him an international call-up but he has not seen any real action so far, making only three substitute appearances.

Warda has been chosen player of the month for his team twice this season and scored the goal of the month in the league in September. But the stats are not doing Warda any favours as he awaits a real chance to show what he can do. Mahmoud Trezeguet, who signed for Belgian giants Anderlecht last summer, is one of our overseas players who Cuper still depends on. But Trezeguet was more recognised on the international scene when he played for Ahly.

Many people can argue that we have very talented players in Egypt who can have the same impact as the ones who usually wear the Egyptian jersey, that a player like Al-Mohamadi at least deserves to be picked up even if he won’t start every game. As for Kouka, Ghazal and Warda, they are all young players who need to feel more appreciated back home to be able to reach their full potential with their clubs and, when the time comes, with the national side.

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