File photo of Ahly's new coach Hossam El-Badry (Ahram)
Hossam El-Badry will lead Ahly for a third stint despite an acrimonious departure in 2013 after Egypt’s most successful club named him as a manager on Wednesday as they hope to alter a stunning decline in form.
The 56-year-old incurred the wrath of Ahly’s demanding fans when he suddenly stepped down more than three years ago to take over at Libya’s Ahly Tripoli but he has been linked with a return to the Red Devils more than once over the past couple of years.
Some fans objected to his return but the club’s under-fire board of directors settled on appointing him at the helm following the resignation of Dutchman Martin Jol, who said he had received death threats following Ahly’s surprise elimination from the CAF Champions League group stage earlier this month.
“The new coach will hold a news conference on Saturday to select his assistants,” Ahly said in a brief statement on their official website.
El-Badry’s last managerial spell was not successful though. He failed to qualify Egypt’s U-23 side for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games after they finished at the bottom of their group at the African Nations Cup last year.
But he will still be remembered for steering Ahly to the Egyptian Premier League title in 2010 and the prestigious African Champions League crown in 2012 in two spells. He was also the assistant of the team’s iconic coach Manuel Jose during a highly-successful reign in the mid and late 2000s.
Ahly will be hoping that he turns around their fortunes after they lost to arch rivals Zamalek in the Egypt Cup final earlier this month before finishing third in their Champions League group after winning once in six matches.
The sudden slump in form came shortly after they won their ninth league title in 10 seasons, although their displays have been far from convincing.
The summer departure of some key players, including teenager Ramadan Sobhi who joined Stoke City in England and Gabonese striker Malick Evouna who moved to China’s Tianjin Teda, has taken its toll on a team shorn of creativity and firepower.
Ahly’s close-season transfer activity has been also criticised by many supporters, who felt the club have not really bolstered their squad, which includes some ageing players who are struggling for form.
“I’m proud to be back to my home. Ahly is the most important thing in my life and I’m looking forward to having the support of the fans,” El-Badry, a famous Ahly defender in the 1980s, told Egyptian football website FilGoal.com.
“What happened last season will not happen again … The best is yet to come.”
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