When we last updated you on the progress of the status of Egyptian Football, the Egyptian National Team was about to embark on a four-game stretch of key 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup qualifiers. At the club level, domestic football in Egypt remained suspended, with no date for resumption in sight.
Here’s how things have developed since then.
It’s safe to say that June has provided us with a very mixed bag of results for Egyptian football as a whole. The month started brightly, with the Egyptian National Team comfortably beating Mozambique 2-0 and following up that victory with a stirring come-from-behind 3-2 win over Guinea, arguably the second-strongest team in Egypt’s World Cup Qualifying group after Egypt.
But just as things were looking great for Egypt, they were brought crashing back to Earth by the Central African Republic, who shocked the ENT by beating them 3-2 in Egypt in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, leaving Egypt in need of at least a 2-0 win to overturn the deficit in the second leg. This first leg result was especially shocking as Egypt had taken the lead twice, only to be knocked back twice and eventually overcome by the much lower ranked CAR.
When the second leg rolled around 15 days later, Egypt still didn’t look good enough to beat their African opponents. They conceded a goal in the 23rd minute, meaning they would need three goals to progress, and didn’t make their control of possession count until the 72nd minute, when Emad Moteab finally opened the scoring for Egypt. CAR were able to stand strong from there though, and they successful eliminated Egypt from 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualification.
In less important but still relevant news, Egypt sent their U-23 team to Saudi Arabia to compete in the 2012 Arab Nations Cup, which was contested between 11 Arabic national teams. Though the competition wasn’t taken very seriously by the Egyptian people or even the Egyptian FA, Egypt’s performances were rather disappointing, as Egypt failed to record a single victory in its three group games.
To top off the bad news, Mohamed Zidan, presently Egypt’s best striker, appears to be back in the doghouse once again after walking out of the ENT’s pre-match camp ahead the return leg against the CAR. Bob Bradley is no Hassan Shehata, so it seems highly unlikely that Zidan will be allowed to return the ENT in the near future. The Egyptian FA have also fined Zidan for his actions.
In happier news, Egypt’s league is officially set to resume on August 24th, after the Egyptian FA confirmed that all that remains to be done is for the Egyptian government to approve new security measures at stadiums around the country. That is no small step, but it is expected that the government will not stand in the way of the resumption of the Egyptian Premier League, which many Egyptians consider to be a key part of their regular lives.
Meanwhile, many of Egypt’s top footballers will ply their trade abroad this coming season. In addition to Ahmed Hegazy (Fiorentina) and Mohamed Saleh (FC Basel), Hosni Abd-Rabou has announced that he’ll be playing with Al Nassr of the Saudi Professional League next season. Shikabala was close to joining Egypt’s contingent of players playing abroad with a move to Napoli, but the move is now considered dead in the water and the playmaker remains in limbo after falling out with Zamalek head coach Hassan Shehata.
Mido has surprised many with his move to Barnsley in the Championship, but both sides seem quite pleased with the move, and with the limited options currently at Bob Bradley’s disposal in the striker department, who knows what could happen for Mido in a few months time. Mido himself has said that he would jump at the chance to represent the Egyptian National Team once again.
With only two friendlies scheduled between now and March 22nd, 2013, there isn’t much to look forward to on the international calendar for Egypt. Being knocked out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations has unfortunately greatly freed up the schedule of Bob Bradley, and he’ll be spending the next nine months or so scouting the top Egyptian players in Egypt and abroad.
In domestic football though, there will be much to look forward to. The long-anticipated return of the Egyptian Premier League should provide the ENT with a good stream of talent to work with, and should help restore the prestige of Egyptian football. There’s a long road ahead to get Egypt back to the glory days when Egypt won three consecutive Africa Cups—but many Egyptians will tell you that they’ll take World Cup qualification over Africa Cup glory any day.