Monday,12 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1398, (21 - 27 June 2018)
Monday,12 November, 2018
Issue 1398, (21 - 27 June 2018)

Ahram Weekly

From Ahly reject to World Cup star

Against all odds,  Al-Shennawi gave a  brilliant  performance earning him the Man of the Match award in his first official international participation
Against all odds, Al-Shennawi gave a brilliant performance earning him the Man of the Match award in his first official international participation
Al-Ahram Weekly

OVERNIGHT, Egypt’s goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Shennawi has turned into a star and become the talk of the World Cup.

Who would have believed that head coach Hector Cuper of the Pharaohs would choose Al-Shennawi for the opener of the World Cup? Nobody. And actually, when his name appeared on the starting list against Uruguay, many Egyptians held their breath and kept their fingers crossed that all would go well. For them, the World Cup needed an experienced international goalkeeper. And for them, Al-Shennawi was far from that.

But against all odds, the 29-year-old Ahly player stunned fans and silenced the critics. By the end of Egypt’s match against the Latin American team, he had become a star and the man of the match, despite Egypt losing the game 1-0.

The goalkeeper of Egypt’s national team was the talk of the city after his unbelievable performance against Uruguay in the opening game of the World Cup campaign. It wasn’t clear who would start, whether Al-Shennawi or Essam Al-Hadari until the starting lineup was announced the day of the game. Many people were surprised to find Al-Shennawi was chosen over Al-Hadari due to the former’s lack of experience as the Ahly goalkeeper didn’t make a single official appearance for the national side before the World Cup unlike Al-Hadari whose experience is second to none.

However, Al-Shennawi was easily and without a shadow of a doubt the star man of the game and was surely unlucky to concede a goal with just one minute to go for the game and end up on a losing side after such a fabulous performance.

Al-Shennawi made four key, unbelievable saves during the game, two from Luis Suarez and two from Edinson Cavani in addition to another decent save from Cavani to take his total number of saves during the game to five. A one-on-one with Suarez and the two saves from Cavani’s volley and Cavani’s free kick were the highlight of the game.

Unfortunately Al-Shennawi had absolutely no chance with Gimenez’s header in the 89th minute that gave the Uruguayan side all three points and left the Egyptian side and Egyptians fans heartbroken.

So, who is Mohamed Al-Shennawi? Most Egyptian fans just know that he’s the goalkeeper of Ahly now but don’t know that he used to play for them for more than eight years from 2000 to 2008 when he was promoted to the first team and stayed for one year before searching for more playing time.

He then moved to Talaaea Al-Geish in 2009 for four years before leaving once again in 2012 to join Haras Al-Hodoud on loan for one season. A permanent move to Petrojet in 2013 lasted three years before the Egyptian giants Ahly signed back their player as a backup goalkeeper for Sherif Ekrami.

However, less than two years later Ekrami lost his starting berth to Al-Shennawi who made the most out of the chance given to him and here we are speaking about a World Cup star now.

It’s fine to admit that Al-Shennawi wasn’t magnificent in the pre-World Cup games and didn’t convince many people that he was the right man for the job but Cuper decided to pick him ahead of Al-Hadari and what a decision it was.

As much as Al-Shennawi was glad to have been named the Egypt-Uruguay man of the match, the goalkeeper, being a Muslim, refused to receive the match award because it was presented by an alcohol company. His reaction caused controversy on social media platforms from the fans. Some lauded his commitment to his religion while others said he should have accepted it since it’s the official award of FIFA for man of the match.

In the post-match press conference Al-Shennawi said he was glad to be named man of the match in his first appearance at the World Cup. “But I wouldn’t have displayed such a performance without the assistance and support of my teammates in front of me,” he said.

A man of the match display against Uruguay could be the start of a great international career for Al-Shennawi who’s just getting started.

Rumours have it that scouts at the World Cup have started collecting information about the goalkeeper, especially his age. His name is definitely, by now, in their books as they will keep an eye fixed on Al-Shennawi throughout his participation.

 

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