Egyptian league jeopardized by turmoil

Eslam Omar, Monday 7 Feb 2011

Egyptian clubs are worried about local competitions due the country's ongoing unrest

Egypt

The future of Egypt's football activity in is in jeopardy due to the ongoing protests in the country since 25 January. The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has decided to suspend all activities until further notice.

“The EFA board has decided to postpone day 16 of the first division games that were scheduled for 28 and 29 January. The fixtures will be determined later,” a brief statement on the EFA website announced on 27 January.

The clubs have been in a frozen situation for almost two weeks – just like almost all sectors in the country – before finally resuming their daily action this week. 

Zamalek have just come back from a successful trip to Kenya beating Ulinzi Stars 4-0 in the first round of the CAF Champions League and had no other choice except to keep preparing for the return leg which was rescheduled to 25 instead of 9 February.

“As soon as we got back from Kenya, we resumed our daily regular training after a two day break. We are in action no matter what and we are set to fine any player who doesn’t stay disciplined,” Zamalek's Football Director Ibrahim Hassan told Ahram Online.

Defending champions Ahly had to do without coach Manuel Jose who travelled with his staff to Portugal but is expected to be back on Wednesday 9 February.

“The training sessions will resume on Wednesday under the supervision of assistant coach Mohamed Youssef until the return of Jose,” Ahly’s football director Sayed Abdel-Hafiz was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram daily newspaper on Monday.

Life is back for most of the clubs but not back to normal yet.

“The players have been out of action for more than two weeks. Maybe we need a friendly tournament to get back to form,” Talae El-Gaish coach Farouk Gaafar was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram.

Most of the coaches don’t think it would be a wise decision to resume the league action quickly and it would be very harmful for their players. This long and unexpected break has caused a lot of damage to the teams and they need time to recover before resuming official action.

“The players are exhausted as they have all been awake all nights guarding their houses over the past few days. My foreign players are still very anxious as their embassies asked them to leave Egypt due to the current situation,” Ittihad of Alexandria coach Mohamed Amer told Ahram Online.

“Above all we need people back in the stands because there is no reason to hold a competition without supporters who are distracted by this unrest,” he added.

Whether the protesters leave Tahrir square or not, EFA president Samir Zaher will hold a meeting with the board by the end of the week to discuss the fate of the Egyptian League during these critical circumstances.

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