Ahly resumes training after 20-day hiatus

Eslam Omar, Monday 20 Feb 2012

The Red Devils hold first training session since 1 February Port Said violence that left dozens killed and hundreds injured

Ahly's players (Photo: Bassam El-Zoghbi)

Ahly's first football team have returned to training after a 20-day halt following the 1 February Port Said disaster.

“The football team and technical staff, including Portuguese manager Manuel Jose and director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz, observed a minute of silence for the Port Said martyrs before their first training session in 20 days,” read a statement on the club’s official website.

After an Egyptian Premier League game with Masry on their home soil, thousands of Port Said club fans attacked Ahly supporters, leaving at least 74 dead and hundreds injured.

The Egyptian Football Association board, under the presidency of Samir Zaher, resigned following the tragedy, after which Anwar Saleh was appointed the association’s acting chairman.

Investigations of the incident remain ongoing while the Red Devil's hardcore fans, the Ultras Ahlawy, with support from fans of other clubs, continue to push the authorities for justice by staging protests and marches.

The Cairo-based club, for its part, insists that domestic competitions will not resume until Port Said martyrs receive their rights. The club will mourn the victims for a 40-day period, while there are reportedly talks with archrivals Zamalek to hold a friendly match after 10 March, the proceeds of which would go to the families of the killed and injured.

Team members who witnessed the bloody scene were supposed to have resumed training on Friday, but they spent the session in a psychological rehabilitation program.

The 65-year-old coach, Jose, announced Sunday that he wanted his team to play six friendly games to prepare them for the upcoming CAF Champions League round-32 match on 23 March.

Mohamed Barakat
Mohamed Barakat (Photo: Al-Ahram)

During Monday’s training, defender Wael Goma’a suffered a calf strain, midfielder Walid Soliman missed the session due to a shoulder injury, and star midfielder Mohamed Barakat watched from the stands after announcing his retirement on Sunday, although his teammates are still trying to persuade him not to leave the green.

Ahly are bidding for their eighth successive domestic league title being second in the league table with 36 points – one point behind leaders Haras El-Hodoud – amid speculation that the entire season could be canceled for security reasons.

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