Thursday,20 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)
Thursday,20 September, 2018
Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)

Ahram Weekly

A shot at glory

Hull City’s Ahmed Al-Mohamady is poised to make Egyptian football history in the coming weeks. Marawan Zayed reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

In just over two weeks, Ahmed Al-Mohamady and Hull City will probably be playing their biggest game of the season, if not of their entire history. On the 17th of May, Wembley will host the FA Cup final between Al-Mohamady’s Hull City and Arsenal, who will be looking to clinch their first title in nine years.

The game is decisive for Hull City, who are poised to cause one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition.

Arsenal, who are clear favourites to win the title, are under severe pressure to win the race as they enter their 9th trophy-less year after some extremely fruitful spates in the era of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

As the underdogs, Al-Mohamady and his teammates will not be under the same pressure and their fans know that a victory will be an incredible achievement. The team has already had a fantastic season, ensuring their status in the top division of English football is retained and managing to reach the final of the oldest British competition.

Hull City’s brilliant manager, Steve Bruce, has claimed that the team’s main aim this season was to make sure they stayed in the Premier League for another season. Just reaching the FA Cup final would be an extraordinary feat, let alone winning it, which would be the biggest achievement of his long career.

As far as Al-Mohamady is concerned, this will probably be his biggest club game for many years to come. The flying Pharaoh has certainly led an illustrious life path so far. Four years ago, Al-Mohamady joined Sunderland for a season-long loan deal from Enppi for 500k with an option of a 2 million permanent deal in the following summer.

Al-Mohamady got off to a flying start with his new club, also managed by Steve Bruce, playing 36 games during his first season. Sunderland signed Al-Mohamady permanently following his impressive first season. The following season saw Al-Mohamady playing week in week out and scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against West Brom via a great header.

As is frequently the case in the shifting world of football, two months later Steve Bruce left the club after some disastrous results and his successor, Martin O’Neill, did not give Al-Mohamady a single start for the remainder of the season. The player crossed paths with Bruce once again in the championship with Hull City as the club fought for a comeback to the top division. Al-Mohamady went on to become one of the stars of the team, managing to win a place back in the Premier League. Al-Mohamady was chosen as their player of the season by the fans after scoring three times and setting up another eight goals. Bruce then made Al-Mohamady’s move a permanent one for the second time in three years.

At the moment, Sunderland are struggling to stay in the Premier League, while Al-Mohamady, who was shipped out of the club, will be playing in the FA Cup final in addition to sealing a place in the Premier League next season. Egyptian fans may have given more attention to Mohamed Salah since he moved to Chelsea in January, but they will surely keep a hopeful eye on one of the most consistent and reliable Egyptian stars playing overseas.

A win over Arsenal is not an easy task by any means. It will require an excellent performance by Al-Mohamady’s and his teammates, but they can surely heed the example of Wigan, who bowed out on penalties against Arsenal in the semi-final. Wigan led by a goal up until the last 10 minutes when Arsenal managed to equalise and triumph on penalties later on.

If Wigan were able to do so against Arsenal, then Hull City and Steve Bruce do indeed have a shot at an upset and maybe even a win. If this happens, Al-Mohamady will enter history as the first Egyptian star to win the FA Cup, after being the first Egyptian to reach the final of the competition.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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