Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Not what fans wanted

Many Egyptians had hoped Dortmund would win the Champions League. Ahmed Hamdi reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Nearly half of the 86,298 in attendance at Wembly Stadium in London cheered "The Black Yellows",  Borussia Dortmund, as they went head to head with the Bavarian giant Bayern Munich in an all-German Champions League final on Saturday.  Although Munich, being a world class team, had its fans in Egypt prepared to cheer for it during the match, the big support Dortmund got from Egyptians was unexpected. The Borussians had the backing of many Egyptians especially those who are fans of teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan.  Others supported them out of pity, being the weaker of the two German teams.

The relationship between Egyptians and Dortmund first started when Egyptian player Mohamed Zidan wore the yellow and black shirt in 2008 up until he left just last year. Jürgen Klopp, the manager of the team, is also very much known to Egyptians who have been following their compatriot Zidan in his career in the Bundesliga. Klopp had managed Zidan in Mainz and then moved to Dortmund and took the Egyptian striker with him. Dortmund is still connected to Egyptians after news spread about a possible transfer of U-20 national team star Saleh Gomaa to the yellow castle.

The start of the final had Klopp's men controlling the game. That was the case for nearly 30 minutes when Bayern started to get into the atmosphere. That atmosphere was not missing in almost every single café in Egypt as they prepared for the match nearly half an hour before it started. Rows of chairs lined up behind each other in front of every television or projector. Chairs for watching were to be paid for, aside from ordering a drink and paying for that, too. As Egyptians looked on, Bayern got back into the game with several dangerous attacks on Dortmund's goal led by Javi Martinez and Arjen Robben.

Before the match Robben was known for his "bad luck" in the finals. It started by wasting a famous goal in the 2010 World Cup final which his national team lost against Spain 1-0. That happened again when he missed a penalty against Chelsea in last year's Champions League final which they also lost. The reputation was cemented when he missed another penalty against Dortmund in last year's local Cup final. In this year's Champions League final, Robben looked to maintain his reputation.

The Dutch winger wasted several chances as he went head-to- head with the German goalkeeper of Munich, Manuel Neuer. "Robben will not change when it comes to finals," Mohamed Nidal, a Real Madrid fan supporting Dortmund in the match, said as he watched Robben waste one chance after another. "I wouldn't want him to change tonight anyway," Nidal added as he locked his eyes on the TV. Approaching half-time Munich took control of the game but with no concentration on putting the ball inside Dortmund's net. Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli blew his whistle to signal half-time.

"Dortmund played well in the first half but they need to take care in their defence," said Mohamed Gamil who supported The Black Yellows. "In the second half Bayern will strike back and I don't think Dortmund's defence would be able to stop the runs of (Frank) Ribery and Robben," replied Mohamed Ragab who supported Munich.

Indeed Gamil's and Ragab's analysis of Dortmund's defence was correct. Ragab was correct as Bayern went into the second half stronger and more solid. It took only 15 minutes for Munich to score their first goal after a series of dangerous attacks. The goal was scored by Mario Mandžukić as he transformed a brilliant cross from Robben into the net. After the goal, Dortmund started to regain control of the game as Munich went back to defend their lead.

"What was that for?" Gamil screamed when Munich's defender Dante brutally kicked Marco Reus of Dortmund in the stomach inside Munich's area. Rizzoli did not hesitate to whistle a penalty against the Brazilian defender. "The referee should have given Dante a red card. That was so brutal," Gamil protested against Rizzoli's decision to not book Dante. The young man's screams and protests though turned to cheers as half-defender İlkay Gündoğan scored the penalty for Dortmund. The score was tied 1-1 with about 20 minutes to go.

Once again Munich regained control of the game. Thomas Muller led an attack as he passed through the defenders and Dortmund's goalkeeper, Roman Weidenfeller, crossing the ball to Robben in front of an empty net. Dortmund's defender Neven Subotić, though, was not yet ready to let Robben break his goalless stretch, making a marvelous goal-line save. As it looked like Dortmund's defence was losing control over Munich's strikers, Weidenfeller proved his world-class quality, saving his team from powerful strikes by David Alaba and Sebastian Schweinsteiger.

Just one minute before full-time and as everyone prepared for extra-time, it was time for Robben to put an end to both his goal drought in big games and Dortmund's dreams. The Dutch winger scored the winner for Munich as the team's fans exploded in celebration both on the field and in the cafes in the Egyptian capital. Dortmund's fans sat in disappointment watching Rizzoli whistle the end of the match.

"Robben reminded me of what (Mohamed) Abu Treika did against Sfaxien (in the African Champions League final) in 2006," Ahli coach Mohamed Youssef told his club's official website after the match, recalling Treika's historic last minute goal. Ahli’s half-defender Hossam Ashour also spoke to his club's website, saying Munich deserved the victory. Saleh Gomaa, who has been on a trial in Dortmund this month, expressed his disappointment at the result in an interview with Filgoal website. "I wish Dortmund had won. That would have made a huge difference to the team and its players," Gomaa commented.

Aside from the result which pleased some and disappointed others, the match proved that Egyptians are still hungry for football. It also showed that when it wants, the government can control frequent power cuts. As everyone had their eyes glued on the TV screen, while they were divided as to whom they were rooting for, they all had one wish: "may the Ministry of Electricity forget to cut the electricity tonight!"

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