Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1309, (25 - 31 August 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1309, (25 - 31 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Martin Jol and Ahly part ways

The Dutch coach resigned after unruly Ahly fans turned on him and their club, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

The veteran Dutch manager Martin Jol decided to resign from his post as coach of Egypt’s Ahly football club amid fan unrest a few days after Ultras Ahly attacked the players during a training session which resulted in an injury to striker Amr Gamal, if the rumours are to be believed.

The fans were angry with the players after some very bad performances that included losing to fierce rivals Zamalek in the final of the Egyptian Cup as well as exiting the African Champions League from the group stage in humiliating fashion. The backbreaker was Ahly’s 2-2 draw with Zambia’s Zesco United in Egypt which ended their chances of progressing to the semi-finals of the Champions League. These disappointing results didn’t do Jol or the players any favours. Winning the league title just a few weeks earlier did not prevent questions which started to be raised about Jol’s capabilities and whether he was the right man for the job.

Club captain Hossam Ghali, young striker Gamal and veteran striker Emad Meteb were also among those to be criticised intensely and on a consistent basis especially Ghali who’s form dipped big time in recent weeks. The fans want Ghali to be dropped, Meteb to retire and Gamal to leave and want an overhaul of the relatively weak squad compared to the quality of the players the club had four or five years ago.

Jol, a former coach of Tottenham and Ajax, insisted in recent weeks he would not leave the club despite reports indicating he feared for his life after seeing the fans attacking the players in the training session. The club had an emergency meeting with Jol a few days later and announced that the Dutch manager would stay in his job.

However, a few days more and Jol decided to resign. The club accepted his resignation with immediate effect with assistant Osama Orabi taking control of the team until they appoint a new manager.

The disappointing part in this story is seeing Ahly supporters attacking the players, mostly verbally, despite always being loyal to their players through thick and thin. This is the first time that Ahly fans turn on their players in such fashion to the point where some pundits and supporters questioned whether these were true Ahly fans. Some claim it was a political move calculated to continue to prevent fans from entering stadiums as has been the practice for several years due to security fears.

The truth is unclear at the moment but it is hoped that it never happens again among any fans or clubs in Egyptian football. Ahly president Mahmoud Taher and the board of the club are meanwhile expected to take their time before appointing a new manager as they admit the club needs to make several signings to return to its glory days domestically and in Africa.

Jol quit Ahly after just six months at the club. Ahly said the 60-year-old had apologised for going out of the Champions League, a competition they have won a record eight times.

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