Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Bright end to a disaster

Although the Ahli year began with tragedy it ended with the club and its star player being named the best in Africa, Abeer Anwar reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Despite February’s Port Said massacre in which 74 football fans, mostly Ahli supporters, were killed in a horrific soccer riot, and despite the suspension thereafter of all football activities on the local level, Ahli has been named the best club in Africa.
At a glamorous Glo-CAF Awards gala in Accra, judges acknowledged the year of Ahli. Against all odds, Ahli ended an exceptionally difficult 2012 by winning the continent’s top interclub trophy, beating holders Esperance of Tunisia 3-2 on aggregate to win their 7th CAF Champions League title. The club then went to the FIFA Club World Cup where it finished a respectable fourth after reaching the semi-finals.
Ahli have won more than 100 trophies, including Africa’s top club competition a record seven times.
Ahli was founded in 1907 as a club where leaders of Cairo’s students’ unions could meet during the struggle against colonisation. On 25 February 1907, Amine Sami chose the name ‘Ahli’ for the newly founded club to fit with its purpose. It started out as the Egyptian Limited Liability Company with a capital of LE5,000. The club’s first chairman was an Englishman named Mitchell Ince, who facilitated the foundation of the club and issued planning permissions for the land it owned. In 1922, electricity was connected to the club’s headquarters for the first time to replace gasoline in a major project that cost LE52 at the time .Three years later, the club decided to make membership exclusive to Egyptians. As former president and player legend Saleh Selim always called it, Ali is “the club of values”.
Ahli began dominating the Egyptian football scene in the 1940s. In the 1980s the club became successful on a continental level, winning the Africa Cup of champions Clubs in 1982 and 1987. They triumphed again in the renamed competition in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2008  under the coaching of the Portuguese Manuel José, then finally in 2012, making them the most crowned team in Africa, with seven Champions League titles, four Cup Winners’ Cup, four Super Cups and one Afro-Asian Club Championship.
It was also the first club to reach the  FIFA Club World Cup twice, in 2005 and 2006 winning the bronze medal in the latter, being the first African club to win a medal in the competition. After qualifying for the 2012 edition, Ahli became the club with the most appearances in the FIFA Club World Cup, together with Auckland City of New Zealand qualifying four times out of nine competitions.
Egypt’s star Mohamed Abu Treika, 34, was named the best African player inside Africa to add a new title to the legendary player who announced, “I will not retire except after the 2014 World Cup. I feel that I can still give a lot.”
Abu Treika started playing football at an early age with his neighbours in the street. When he was 12, his friends advised him to take the Tersana Club football tests for talents and he did, joining the junior team. At the age of 17 he joined the club’s first team and took the team to the first division. He played with Tersana three seasons before joining Ahli in 2004, adding a number of titles to the Red Devils treasure chest.
“I will never leave Ahli for any other club,” Abu Treika has often said.” It is my second home.”
Manuel Jose, the team’s former Portuguese coach also congratulated Ahli and Abu Treika for the achievements. He asked Abu Treika to continue to exert his utmost effort in a phone call with the Ahli star. “I think that you are a strange player. You are always able overcome all obstacles and shine again. Continue your career and do your best as I think you can still give a lot.”
Mohamed Salah, 20, was named the most promising talent in Africa. Salah was one of the key players of the Egyptian U-23 squad that played in the London 2012 Olympic football tournament where he scored in three of their four matches. He was chosen by Swiss club FC Basel to play with the team after the Olympics in June.
Salah also played for Egypt’s senior team and scored in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Guinea and in a 2013 AFCON qualifier against the Central African Republic.
The Legend Award went to coach Mahmoud Al-Gohari who passed away in September in Jordan. Al-Gohari was one of the most prominent faces in the history of Egyptian and African football. Born on 20 February 1938, he had a short playing career with Ahli from 1956 to 1961, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1959 with three goals and finishing as top scorer. He had to retire due to a knee injury and went to coaching.
He started his coaching career with Ittihad Jeddah in 1981 but quit after one year to start coaching Ahli. He coached the Egyptian national team from 1988 to 2002. Under his guidance, the Egyptian team was able to reach the 1990 FIFA World Cup for only the second time after a 56-year absence.
He also spurred the Egyptian team to win the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations, making him the only person to win the title as a player and coach.  Al-Gohari surprised all by taking charge of Ahli’s arch-rivals Zamalek in 1993 to become the first Egyptian coach to manage the two clubs. He also guided Ahli and Zamalek to African club titles in 1982 and 1993.
In 2002, Al-Gohari decided to quit coaching in Egypt after being harshly criticised after failing to take Egypt to the World Cup. He coached Jordan from 2002 to 2007.  
Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure made it two titles in a row by winning the 2012 African Player of the Year. The votes from the head coaches of the national associations affiliated to CAF determined the winner.
The Fair Play Award went to Gabon’s national team supporters.

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