Rising star Mohamed Ibrahim, whose performance dazzled at the U-20 World Cup, believes Egypt have proved they can compete with the world’s football heavyweights such as Argentina and Brazil.
In an interview with Ahram Online, the Zamalek player also explained the reasons behind Egypt’s elimination from the World Cup and reflected on the Cairo giants’ chances in the Egyptian Premier League next season.
Ahram Online: Egypt produced some impressive displays in the World Cup but were still eliminated from the round of 16. How do you explain that?
Mohamed Ibrahim: The team was the victim of bad refereeing. The controversial decisions of the referee in our clash against Argentina were the main reasons for our elimination, especially his decision to award Argentina a penalty in the first half. We consequently lost concentration during a crucial stage. We tried to overturn the result and managed to bridge the gap to 2-1, but were unlucky when Ahmed Hegazy failed to notch the equaliser in stoppage time.
AO: Did you expect the Egyptian team to produce such fine displays in Colombia?
MI: Yes, because we were well prepared for this big event and the players were determined to defend the reputation of Egyptian football. Before the tournament, coach Diaa El-Sayed told the players they should be confident and should not panic when they face the likes of Argentina and Brazil. That’s why we played well against the two giants and we proved that there is no difference between Egypt and Argentina and Brazil in terms of footballing qualities.
AO: Have you received any offers following your eye-catching performances at the World Cup?
MI: I haven’t received any offers so far. There were reports that some European clubs were interested in signing me, following the African Youth Championship. Some representatives from those interested clubs told Diaa El-Sayed they would monitor my progress at the World Cup, but I have not received anything after the tournament. It’s a dream to play in Europe but I have to concentrate on my commitments with Zamalek until I get a good offer that would convince my club to let me leave. My current deal with Zamalek will expire in 2015. My target now is to maintain my place in Zamalek’s starting line-up and help the team win next season’s Egyptian Premier League title.
AO: Are you optimistic for Zamalek’s chances of winning the league, especially after the arrival of coach Hassan Shehata and the summer signings they made?
MI: Hassan Shehata is a great coach. I believe he will be heavily benefit the team with his experience and coaching abilities. It’s a great honour to play under his guidance and I am sure that the team will be different with him. Regarding the new signings, a player with the calibre of Egypt skipper Ahmed Hassan will boost our squad. He is one of the best midfielders in Egypt. Hany Said is also an excellent defender; I hope he will shine with Zamalek as much as he shined with Masry last season.