Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1380, (8 - 14 February 2018)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1380, (8 - 14 February 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Exodus to the Kingdom

Moemen Zakaria makes it nine Egyptians in the Saudi football league, reports Marawan Zayed

A few weeks ago, Ahly star Moemen Zakaria confirmed he was leaving the Egyptian champions to join another Ahly side in the Saudi league to suddenly make it nine Egyptian players in Saudi Arabia. At the beginning of last year, we had only two Egyptian players in the form of Kahraba and Mohamed Abdel-Shafi playing in the Gulf country but now and for a couple of reasons they have multiplied.


First, goalkeeper Essam Al-Hadari decided to make the move and follow Kahraba and Abdel-Shafi to the Saudi league as he signed for Al-Taawon after finding himself benched at Wadi Degla. The veteran keeper had many offers in the Gulf but he opted for Al-Taawon. He is still there on a lucrative deal.


Hossam Ghali and Shikabala were the next to leave Ahly and Zamalek respectively to join Al-Nasr after again finding themselves in and out of the team at their clubs. Ghali got into a few well-publicised clashes with coach Hossam Al-Badri which made the decision to leave his boyhood club a lot easier, even though the club offered to renew his contract.

In addition, the former Tottenham star who turned 36 in December last year surely had one eye on one final big contract as he nears retirement since players pay close attention to the financial part in the latter stages of their careers, which is understandable.


However, it was the last few months that witnessed the real flood of Egyptian players to the Saudi league as Ahmed Al-Sheikh, Emad Meteb, Mustafa Fathi and Zakaria all followed their international teammates to the Kingdom for different reasons. Fathi followed Al-Hadari to Al-Taawon as he wanted to test himself abroad as well as ensure more playing time since he was one player who had some issues with the ever-controversial Zamalek President Mortada Mansour.

Then we have Meteb and Al-Sheikh who both had no other option than to leave Ahly as they were completely ignored by Al-Badri and didn’t seem to have any future under him. And with both of them still hoping to make the World Cup squad, they just had to go somewhere where they could play and of course earn good money. Meteb joined Fathi and Al-Hadari at Al-Taawon while Al-Sheikh joined Al-Ettifaq.


The last player to leave to the Saudi league and arguably one that surprised Egyptian fans the most was the transfer of Zakaria from Ahly to the Saudi side with the same name, Ahly. This one surprised many fans in Egypt, as Zakaria is more or less the star man of the team and one of the key players in Al-Badri’s squad. However, in this case Zakaria was brutally honest as he admitted that money was the main reason behind the move as he’ll be turning 30 in a few months and thus this could be his last big contract. The offer was too good to refuse for both the player and the club, with Al-Badri admitting he didn’t want to stand in the way of a player who gave so much to the team in recent years, stressing that the door is open for Zakaria if he decided to finish the six-month loan deal and “come back home”.

Zakaria himself said he’s unsure of his future after the end of the loan deal but left all doors open. His ultimate dream now is to perform well for his team to get on the plane going to Russia.

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