Ahly's Soliman announces retirement from international football after Egypt snub

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 14 Nov 2018

Walid Soliman

Ahly's in-form winger Walid Soliman announced on Wednesday his retirement from international football after being snubbed by Egypt for Friday's African Nations Cup qualifier against Tunisia.

Egypt coach Javier Aguirre left observers baffled after opting against including Soliman in the team's squad for Friday's clash in Alexandria despite his exploits with African Champions League runners-up Ahly.

He played an instrumental role in leading Ahly to a place in the final, scoring six goals in 13 appearances, just one short of the competition's top scorers, and providing four assists.

"In order not to cause embarrassment to everyone … I'm announcing my retirement from international football. Best of wishes to our national team," Soliman said on his Twitter account.

Aguirre's assistant Hany Ramzy hinted that the 33-year-old was not called up because the Mexican boss wanted to inject fresh and young blood.

Soliman, who has never been a regular member of Egypt's squad, made his debut with the Pharaohs in November 2007 and went on to play 22 international matches.

His last appearance came in a 1-1 draw with Guinea in a friendly match in 2016.

Brilliant Soliman

Soliman, who joined Ahly from Enppi in 2011, won with the Cairo giants four Egyptian league and two Champions League titles among other minor accolades, although he was confined to a back-up role in his early years with the team.

In 2012, the versatile winger played an instrumental role in propelling Ahly to a lucrative Champions League triumph at the expense of Tunisia's Esperance but he was part of a star-studded squad that was the team to beat in Africa at the time.

In the subsequent years, he fell down the pecking order, his role diminished and his future questioned. Adopting a never-say-die attitude, Soliman grasped his chance with both hands when it came, rising from the ashes to raise eyebrows with a series of dazzling displays.

When veteran playmaker Abdallah El-Said left Ahly after falling out with the club towards the end of last season, Soliman was the man tasked with filling his gap, taking up an unfamiliar playmaking role.

He did not disappoint.

Soliman produced a number of scintillating displays to enhance his status as a fan darling, having proven the only source of creativity in an otherwise workmanlike roster.

Among the goals he scored in Ahly's run to the Champions League final this season was a decisive strike away to Algeria's ES Setif in the second leg of the competition's semi final.

With Ahly leading 2-0 from the first leg, Soliman outpaced his hesitant challenger to break clear and round off a breakaway with aplomb -- a typical no-nonsense finish – to leave the hosts with an uphill climb.

Needing to score four goals without reply in less than 30 minutes to overturn the deficit, Setif could only score two, with Soliman's strike making all the difference.

Ahly faltered at the last hurdle, losing 4-3 to Esperance on aggregate to miss out on a record-extending ninth title. However, Soliman remains the team's undisputed star.

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