Abou-Treika can overcome off-field distractions, says Ahly coach

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 3 Sep 2013

Ahly's coach Mohamed Youssef backs playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika amid controversy over his alleged criticism of the Egyptian army

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

Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef is confident veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika can get over off-field distractions as the club prepare for a crunch African Champions League clash against arch-rivals Zamalek.

The Egyptian international is embroiled in controversy after local reports said he had verbally abused an Egyptian army officer upon Ahly's arrival in Cairo after they beat Congo's AC Leopards in a Champions League clash last month.

The reports said Abou-Treika, who is known for being Islamist-leaning, had yelled at the officer who was responsible of securing the team bus, telling him: “Are you bringing the army which is killing the people to secure us?”

Abou-Treika later denied the reports, saying in a statement that he "fully respects all the country's institutions, including the army", which effectively assumed control of Egypt after deposing elected President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

Rookie coach Mohamed Youssef leapt to the defence of the classy forward.

"We all know who Abou-Treika is. I'm not worried, he is a very experienced lad who can deal with such situations," Youssef said on Ahly's official website on Tuesday.

"I also trust his ability to overcome all that and solely focus on football," he added.

Ahly, who are three points clear of Zamalek (four points) in Champions League Group A, host their bitter foes in the penultimate group game on 15 September.

The Red Devils have enjoyed a fine run of late but they still appear toothless upfront, with strikers Ahmed Abdel-Zaher and El-Sayed Hamdi failing to impress.

They have also offloaded Egypt forward Mohamed Nagy 'Gedo', who re-joined English Premier League side Hull City on a season-long loan on Monday.

"Gedo's departure was due to the current circumstances: the club's financial difficulties and the instability of football in Egypt in general," Youssef added.

The Egyptian Premier League was cancelled for the second consecutive year in July and there are doubts over whether the new season will go ahead, given lingering security concerns in the country.

Ahly, who defied the odds to win last season's Champions League, are eying a record-extending eighth continental triumph.

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