Egypt’s new football coach can only go up
Marawan Shafei, Saturday 28 Sep 2019
After poor performances in last year’s World Cup in Russia and this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations, the bar is set very low for Hossam Al-Badri, reports Marawan Shafei

Egypt’s new head football coach Hossam Al-Badri is to take the reins of power in qualifications for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021 and the 2022 World Cup. Since Egypt flopped in both championships, Al-Badri’s task will be not only to get the country back into these tournaments but to do well once in them.

Al-Badri succeeds the Mexican Javier Aguirre.

No doubt, Al-Badri is one of the biggest coaching names right now, however, he did not succeed when he was head of the U-23 Egyptian National Team from 2013-2015, failing to reach the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

The vast majority of football analysts, former players and head coaches have criticised the decision of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA). They questioned the choice of the new manager and the way he was appointed.

The EFA has given Al-Badri the fully authority to designate his own coaching staff before proposing it to the association.

Al-Badri began his managerial career as an assistant manager to Ahly’s Portuguese coach Manuel José in 2005. In 2009 after José’s departure, Ahly named another Portuguese manager Nelo Vingada who after just five days of his signing resigned due to family problems.

After that, Ahly named Al-Badri the club’s new manager on a one season-deal. Al-Badri became the first Egyptian manager for Ahly since 1993. He took over Ahly’s job on three occasions: 2009-2010, 2012-2013 and 2016-2018, winning four Premier League titles and a Champions League in 2012. He also coached Enppi, Ahly of Tripoli and Al-Merrikh, leading the Sudanese giants to the league title in 2012.

Al-Badri left Ahly after being appointed chairman of Pyramids FC, a new club formed just last season.

As a player, Al-Badri began his career at Ahly, a club in which he joined its youth academy in 1970 before being promoted to the senior team eight years later.

Playing as a defender, Al-Badri made his debut for the first team in 1978-79 in a league match against Olympic which Ahly won 3-1.

His greatest achievement as an Ahly player was in 1981 when he guided his team to the Egyptian Premier League title after a close race with Ahly’s rival Zamalek.

With the Egyptian National Team, Al-Badri earned 18 caps and played in the Olympic qualifier in Moscow in 1980.

Injury ended his football career after a cut in the cruciate ligament of the knee in 1984. Treatment took more than a year and a half until he decided to retire in 1987.

Al-Badri’s first competitive match as coach is expected to be in October as there is a FIFA date for international games between 7 and 15 October.

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) promised Al-Badri to start contacts with more than one African team to hold a friendly game in the next FIFA day.

There are reports that Al-Badri’s coaching staff will consist of Tarek Mustafa, Sayed Moawad, Mohamed Barakat and Ayman Taher as goalkeeping coach.

The Pharaohs have been without a manager since Aguirre was sacked after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign when hosts Egypt were knocked out from the round of 16.

The EFA, now headed by Amr Al-Ganaini, had named five candidates to take on the post of coach of the Egyptian national team: Al-Badri, Hassan Shehata, Hossam Hassan, Ehab Galal and Ahmed Hossam or “Mido”. The choice was to have fallen on former Zamalek and Makkasa manager Galal. However, Galal turned down the chance due to disagreements between his Masry club and the EFA. Masry demanded LE3 million as a release clause to leave Galal. Talks were proceeding well with the 52-year-old manager, however, in the last hours, the parties could not come to an agreement over Galal’s proposed staff. Galal chose Hamd Ibrahim and Mustafa Kamal as his assistants while the EFA wanted to appoint Emad Meteb and Essam Al-Hadari.

Al-Ganaini also held a meeting with Smouha and Egypt’s legendary striker Hassan to discuss terms as Pharaohs manager when it appeared that Hassan was the clear favourite at the time. Meteb was nearly named as the national team director but it remains to be seen what will happen.

The EFA has requested the services of five Egyptian professionals abroad 15 days before the start of the first national team camp, which will start on 7 October. Al-Badri called Mohamed Salah, Mahmoud Hassan (Trezeguet), Ahmed Hassan (Koka), Mohamed Al-Ninni and Ahmed Higazi.

Three players who played in this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations ­ ­— Amr Warda, Ahmed Al-Mohamedi and Ali Ghazal — were not called up by the new manager.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 September, 2019 edition ofAl-Ahram Weekly.