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Algerian Sayoud gives Ahly what they are missing

Amir Sayoud's virtuoso display against Gouna on Tuesday will have fans wondering why he was kept on the sidelines for so long

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 4 May 2011
Amir Sayoud
Ahly's Amir Sayoud, the next big thing?
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Amir Sayoud offered Ahly what they have been missing - pace, vitality and trickery - after making a rare start against Gouna in Tuesday's Egyptian Premier League game.

The Algerian playmaker earned plaudits with an eye-catching display at Cairo Stadium which saw him create striker Osama Hosny’s goal that gave the team a slender 1-0 victory.

But his contribution went beyond setting up Hosny for the seventh-minute goal. He kept Gouna defenders on their toes with a series of dazzling tricks that left the home fans wondering why he has been on the fringe of the first team while Ahly were in dire need of such mesmerising skills.

"His passes made the difference today and were the main reason why Ahly won that game," the team's former defender Mostafa Younis said after the game.

A defence-splitting pass with the outside of his left foot found Hosny who broke clear and notched home with aplomb.

He almost set up another goal in the 25th minute when he released Mohamed Nagy 'Gedo' following a neat exchange of passes but the Egypt forward's attempted lob went over the bar.

Sayoud could have also found the net on several occasions but his poor finishing let him down before he was substituted in the 79th minute.

He was given a standing ovation by the enthusiastic home crowd who were missing the kind of magic often provided by inspirational playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika, who has lately looked way past his prime.

'Very good'

"Sayoud is a very good player," Ahly's assistant coach Mohamed Youssef, who speaks to the media instead of manager Manuel Jose after the Portuguese decided to boycott post-match news conferences, said after the match.

"But his age is still 20 so we don't want to put too much pressure on him, that's why he was substituted tonight.

"He also still needs to improve his finishing touches, and that's what Coach Jose will be focusing on during training in the coming days."

Sayoud joined Ahly in the summer of 2009 and made his senior debut a few months later in a league game against El-Geish, showing glimpses of the kind of talent which draws the admiration of Egyptian fans who are staunch advocates of what is branded 'pretty football.'

But bad luck intervened in the form of the two bad-tempered World Cup qualifying clashes between Egypt and Algeria. The heavily strained relationship between the two countries forced him to look elsewhere for regular football.

He spent a brief loan spell with Kuwaiti side Al-Arabi before returning to the Red Devils last summer.

But in a squad packed with high-profile attacking midfielders such as Abou-Treika, Gedo and Mohamed Barakat, Sayoud could not break into the team's starting line up under former coach Hossam El-Badry.

But he was given a new lease of life following the return of Jose, who found the ageing stars unable to replicate the heroics which guided Ahly to a host of domestic and continental titles during the past seven years.

During a substitute appearance against Masry last week, a piece of individual skill by Sayoud gained popularity on YouTube although he eventually blasted his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

The injuries to Abou-Treika and Barakat, who were criticised recently for some below-par displays, gave Sayoud a timely opportunity to start against Gouna and showcase his capabilities.

He made the most of it, injecting pace in a side which, thanks to some sluggish performances from the once mighty stars, has become predictable for opponents.

"There is still a long way to go for me. I have to be consistent and produce good displays every game," Sayoud said last month.

"Jose fully trusts my abilities and he is seeking to gradually give me the chance to play on a regular basis.

"I'm determined to repay his faith and prove myself although my task will not be easy due to the amount of stars in Ahly's squad."

Watch Sayoud's assist against Gouna

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