Egyptian football 'died' after Air Defence disaster, says Abou-Treika

Omar Zaazou, Saturday 14 Mar 2015

Football great Mohamed Abou-Treika talks about the status of Egyptian football alongside other issues

Mohamed Abou-Treika
Former Ahly playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika (Photo: Reuters)

Retired Ahly and Egypt star Mohamed Abou-Treika said that he believes domestic football "has died" after last month's Air Defence Stadium disaster, after "being in the emergency room" following the 2012 Port Said tragedy.  

In a television interview, Abou-Treika gave his view on several topics, including the Air Defence calamity which saw 20 Zamalek fans killed after being teargassed by security forces while attempting to enter the stadium.

"Egyptian football died after the Air Defence Stadium massacre," Abou-Treika said.

"The game has been in the emergency room since the 2012 Port-Said tragedy, and now it is dead."

A similar footballing disaster occurred in Port Said three years ago, with the Ahly Ultras fans on the receiving end this time, having lost the lives of some 70 supporters following a pitch invasion near the end of a league game at Masri.

Abou-Treika not convinced by Garrido

On the technical front, Abou-Treika seemed not quite impressed by Ahly boss Juan Carlos Garrido, who took over at the club last summer.

The Red Devils were stuttering in the Egyptian Premier League before it was suspended following the Air Defence disaster, as they fell nine points behind leaders and arch-rivals Zamalek

"Garrido didn't convince me," Treika said of the former Real Betis and Villarreal coach.

"He will need a lot of additions in the close season."

Ahly won the Confederation Cup title last year in dramatic fashion following a last-gasp goal but lost to Algeria's ES Setif on penalties in the Super Cup last month.

Garrido was also criticised by fans and media alike after his run with Ahly saw him lose five games and draw six in 22 matches.

However, Abou-Treika – who joined Ahly from Tersana in 2004 to lead the club to a host of domestic and continental titles – believes that the Reds are favorites to retain the league should it resume in the coming period.

"Should the league resume, Ahly can still be the champions," he said.

Domestic competitions had been put on hold in the wake of the deadly Air Defense incident amid doubts over their fate.

Salah's surprise

Abou-Treika said he was totally surprised by Mohamed Salah's decision to wear the no.74 jersey after moving on loan to Fiorentina from English Premier League leaders Chelsea.

"When Salah first informed me that he was preparing a surprise ahead of his Fiorentina switch, I expected him to wear the no. 22 shirt," Treika said.

"But I was stunned to see him choose the no. 74 shirt. Salah's mentality is indeed different from the rest of Egyptian footballers, which what makes him successful abroad."

The no.22 has been revered ever since Abou-Treika made his name at Ahly wearing that jersey. Meanwhile, no.74 stands as an indication to the number of fans who lost their lives in the Port-Said tragedy.

AFCON qualification is the mission

Talking about the Egypt national team, who appointed Argentine coach Hector Cuper as their new boss, Treika believes it is normal to have him focused on Cup of Nations qualification rather than the World Cup.

"After failing to qualify for the last three AFCON competitions, it is now normal that Cuper would prioritise ending that barren run before thinking about the World Cup," he said.

A once-routine qualification for Egypt, the record seven-time African champions failed to make it to the last three editions after last winning the title in 2010.

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