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Sunday, 23 February 2020

Egypt keeper El-Hadary does not rule out return to Sudan

Veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary says he may return to Sudanese giants Merreikh in June despite falling out with club officials

Hatem Maher, Friday 23 Mar 2012
Essam El-Hadary
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Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary has not ruled out a return to Sudan’s Merreikh when his loan spell with Ittihad of Alexandria ends in the summer.

The 39-year-old, who insisted recently that retirement had not crossed his mind, moved to Ittihad in the January transfer window after repeated fall-outs with Merreikh.

However, made only one appearance with the Alexandria-based club before the Egyptian Premier League season was cancelled due to the Port Said disaster which left at least 74 fans dead on 1 February.

El-Hadary seemed intent on reconciling with Merreikh after phoning the club's officials, including Brazilian coach Ricardo Ferreira, ahead of the team’s African Champions League game against FC Platinum of Zimbabwe.

“The Egyptian international keeper talked with coach Ricardo and football director Seddik Saleh, insisting that it was his duty to motivate the team and stand by them before they face Platinum,” read a statement on El-Hadary’s official website.

“Given that he is still registered with Merreikh, El-Hadary said it’s not a distant possibility that he would return to the club in June when his loan deal with Ittihad ends.”

El-Hadary, who also played for Ahly, Zamalek and Ismaily in Egypt, is unlikely to play any competitive match with Ittihad before finishing his loan spell.

Recent reports in Sudan suggested that Merreikh were keen on recalling him despite the constant disputes that marred his spell at the 18-time league champions.

‘Unprecedented challenge’

El-Hadary said he is solely focused on Egypt’s upcoming commitments in the qualifying campaigns of the African Nations Cup and World Cup.

The Pharaohs will open their World Cup qualifiers against Mozambique on 1 June as they aim to end a drought stretching back to 1990 when they made their last appearance at football’s most prestigious event.

They will also face Guinea a few days later before playing Central African Republic in their first game of the 2013 African Nations Cup qualifiers.

“The national team is facing an unprecedented challenge following the league’s cancellation,” El-Hadary said.

“We will have to play four crucial matches in June. We also need to atone for our failure to reach this year’s Nations Cup.”

El-Hadary, who played a key role in helping Egypt win three consecutive Nations Cup titles, might struggle to retain his regular place between the sticks, given the promising displays of highly-rated keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy.

El-Shennawy stole the limelight with a series of impressive performances with Egypt’s junior team. He made his senior team debut in the 2-0 friendly defeat by five-time world champions Brazil in November last year.

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