The attractive Barcelona football display is appealing for Ahly’s newly-appointed coach Manuel Jose, who said he wants to follow in the footsteps of the Spanish giants.
Barcelona, widely branded as the world’s most entertaining team, seem formidable with their free-flowing football which routinely proves too good for their opponents, even the fancied ones.
The Catalan outfit enjoyed a night to remember in November last year when they thrashed arch-rivals Real Madrid 5-0 after making the most of their breathtaking and efficient skills.
Egyptian champions Ahly struggled to produce convincing displays prior to the arrival of Jose, who took over at the club for a third spell to rescue the faltering side and "build a team for the future".
One of his aims will be helping the Red Devils play the sort of football that the fans would like to see, he said in a lengthy television interview in the early hours of Saturday.
“I always admired the way Barcelona play. This is the football I prefer my team to play,” the confident-looking Jose, already a cult figure among Ahly fans after leading the team to unprecedented success from 2004 to 2009, said.
“All the fans also love that kind of football. I will do my best to help Ahly produce entertaining displays but it would still be difficult to emulate the football the team played during my previous spell at the helm. The physical attributes of some players are not like before. We have several players who are over 30.”
Ahly brushed aside their competitors easily during Jose’s previous tenure to win a host of domestic and local titles.
Fearsome quartet Mohamed Abou-Treika, Mohamed Barakat, Emad Meteb and Flavio were the guiding lights, thanks to their neat distribution of passes and goal-scoring prowess.
Playmaker Abou-Treika, 32, and mercurial midfielder Barakat, 34, have seemingly lost the agility and pace that characterized their performances during the past few years.
Angolan striker Flavio currently plays for Saudi side Shabab while Meteb still needs time to regain fitness after spending six football-less months following a transfer dispute with Belgian side Standard Liege.
“We were the African Barcelona during the past six years because we won many trophies and played very well,” Jose, who returned to Ahly after brief stints with Angola and Saudi side Ittihad Jeddah, added. “I’m determined and eager to help Ahly replicate such great success.”
Ahly met Barcelona in a friendly game during Jose’s reign, suffering a 4-0 defeat in the midst of their centenary celebrations in 2007. They locked horns with Barcelona again few months after Jose left in the summer of 2009, losing 4-1 at Wembley Stadium in England.