Merreikh’s Egyptian keeper El-Hadary justifies rant at own fans

Ahram Online, Tuesday 21 Aug 2012

Essam El-Hadary says he had to shout out at Merreikh fans “to prevent a disaster” during an African Confederation Cup game against rivals Hilal

Essam El-Hadary

Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary said he prevented a disaster after shouting at Sudan’s Merreikh fans during a tense clash against arch-rivals Hilal in the African Confederation Cup.

The group-stage game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, was briefly interrupted after Merreikh’s visiting fans hurled stones onto the pitch in the first half when the score was still goalless.

Veteran guardian El-Hadary kicked an advertising hoarding in an apparent anger before aiming a rant at Merreikh supporters in an attempt to cool them down. His efforts bore fruit as the match was resumed shortly after.

“I was angry after seeing the referee holds the ball, I was worried that he could cancel the match amid that tense atmosphere,” El-Hadary told his personal website on Tuesday.

“I then rushed towards the stands to convince the fans that what were they doing would do Merreikh no favors. I have to thank them because they responded positively, which prevented a disaster that could have occurred during the match.”

El-Hadary, who is widely considered as Egypt’s best-ever goalkeeper, returned to Merreikh in the summer after terminating his contract with Egypt’s Ittihad of Alexandria in the wake of February’s infamous Port Said disaster.

He remains the Pharaohs’ regular shot-stopper despite turning 39 last January.

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