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Young Pharaohs: The Not-So-Good, the Not-So-Bad & the Not-So-Ugly
Making his debut for King Fut, Egyptian football fanatic Karim Mocros gives his perspective on the Young Pharaohs and analyzes the not-so-good, not-so-bad and not-so-ugly phases in the youth scene of Egyptian football.
A journey of 200 players set for trials, 20+ friendly matches and two-season-long preparations were enough to land home again the U-20 African Cup of Nations which was held last month in Algeria. Hardly anyone expected this team to come home as winners, but they proved that this generation is different. As the game became more physical, young players also rose more physical. Young Egyptian players now spend more time at the gym, getting themselves in more well-built shape than the previous generations of youngsters to cope with their likes around the world. Concentrating more and more on fitness and their physical game, combining the talent with hard work.
The number of talented young Egyptian players have noticeably increased. Looking through Egyptian football history, coaches were only concerned with the ‘hard worker’ type of players over the talented ones who they needed to develop. It was a matter of mentality, young players were not good enough to break through the first-team squad easily, or that was how coaches in Egypt really saw them. Big clubs exported the finest fruits from their academies and in couple of years they come hunting them back with millions of pounds, which they could have easily saved. But it is all about preparations, lots and lots of fine young players lost their dreams because of first-team managers’ policy. That’s why the greatest Egyptian youth contributions prior to this year were over ten years ago, the Bronze-medalist team back in 2001. But ever since then, all young Egyptian teams were ‘Not-So-Good’.
But looking at the past couple of years, Egyptian U-20 teams have been knocked out of the last-16 round in two consecutive U-20 World Cups and the U-23 national team was knocked out of the quarter-finals in the 2012 London Olympics. With the highly anticipated prospects like Mohamed Salah, El-Nenny, Hegazy, Rami Rabia, Ahmed Hassan ‘Koka’, Saleh Gomaa, Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’, ‘Kahraba’ and Ahmed Refaat making the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham, Sevilla, Granada, Fiorentina, Siena, Anderlacht, Lille and Nice send their scouts to watch them for a potential permanent move, this definitely assures that Egypt will have a very solid ground for the coming decade. In fact, this generation is brilliant, it is not just ‘Not-So-Bad’.
Through these teams, it was not only for the players. Tactic-wise, the coaches have massively changed the way they look to the game. Previously, watching a young Egyptian team was not entertaining at all. The likes of Hany Ramzy and Rabie Yassin both implemented nearly the same style of play on the young national teams they coached. They both generally used the famous ‘4-3-3’ formation. In defense it becomes ‘4-5-1’ and in the attacking style of play it turns into ‘4-2-1-2-1′. Both coaches had the perfect players who can easily fit in these type of formations, the 3-lung midfielder (El-Nenny/Trezeguet), the deep-lying playmaker (Saleh Gomaa), the quick-leg winger (Salah/Refaat/Kahraba) and the decent target-man (Marwan Mohsen/’Koka’). So now, after watching the 2012 Olympics and Algeria’s U-20 African Cup of Nations, Egypt surely brought on a very entertaining style of attacking football. Young Egyptian football has finally become ‘Not-So-Ugly’.
Concluding the phases Egyptian football went through in the new football-ing era, one can easily see how it changed positively. A trip to Brazil’s 2014 World Cup remains the dream, but with the right players, right coaches and the right support, anything could happen. Why not dream even bigger? More than just a World Cup ticket? Hopefully we’ll further excel from the ‘Not-So-Bad’ and the ‘Not-So-Ugly’.