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Mohamed Barakat – Eight Moments that Define ‘The Mercurial Footballer’
KingFut’s Ahmed Assem tributes to Mohamed Barakat with eight moments to highlight his prestigious career. The choice of ‘8’ simply represents the shirt number worn bythe one and only Barakota during his 9-year stay at Al-Ahly.
Few Egyptian players will ever reach the stage of the ‘Mercurial Footballer’ – Mohamed Barakat is one of them. The man who tormented defenders during his 17-year career has decided to hang up his boots at the end of the season; leaving behind priceless moments and unique memories.
We live in an era where many Egyptian players rely on their strength on the pitch, whereas Barakat would utilize his mind. Regardless of who one supports in Egyptian football, Mohamed Barakat will forever be remembered as a phenomenon. Scoring 35 goals for Al-Ahly in 174 appearances since joining from Saudi club Ahly Jeddah in 2004, while also notching nine goals for the Pharaohs in 70 appearances. Personally, it was a pleasure to watch Barakat play football.
8) 01/02 ‘That’ Goal for Ismaily vs. Zamalek
Barakat’s rise to stardom came while he was wearing the yellow shirt of Ismaily. This goal defines his skill in every way possible. Ismaily were up against giants Zamalek in Cairo. When defending a Zamalek play, Barakota received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and after a swift one-two the White Knights found themselves chasing Barakat from the halfway line until he went one-on-one with Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed and finished exquisitely as Ismaily went on to win the game 4-3.
7) 2010 World Cup Qualifiers
Egypt were shattered. After drawing with Zambia in Cairo and losing to North African rivals Algeria 3-1, the Pharaohs beat Rwanda 3-0 to keep their 2010 World Cup hopes alive. On the fifth of September 2009, anything but a win against Rwanda would destroy Egypt’s qualification hopes. To make things worse, the game was in Kigali and it was during the holy month of Ramadan. With the game level, Hassan Shehata introduced Barakat into the match; it was the Mercurial’s first international appearance in approximately three years after falling out with the former. I can vividly remember the game. No exaggeration, he changed everything. We ran out 1-0 winners in the end through Ahmed Hassan’s lone goal. Unfortunately, he will also be remembered for missing the glorious opportunity to put Egypt 3-0 up against Algeria in Cairo, which would’ve sealed qualification to the 2010 World Cup.
6) Hat-trick vs. Ismaily 04/05
Newly appointed manager Manuel Jose was at Al-Ahly for a second spell, and one of his first requests was to sign the former Ismaily man from Saudi giants Ahly Jeddah. The signing proved to be vital as Al-Ahly endured some unforgettable seasons as they dominated Egyptian and African football. On his return to the Ismailia Stadium, he scored thrice as Al-Ahly ran riot in the North East, winning by six goals to nil. For Ahly fans, it was some sort of revenge after the Darawish had denied them three league titles since the new millennium.
5) The Red Triangle 04/05
Words cannot describe how the trio of Abou-Treika, Meteb and Barakat conquered Egyptian football. They took Egypt by storm. Part of Jose’s conservative 3-4-3 formation, Barakat would often by playing alongside Abou-Treika, with Meteb operating as the lone striker. Their omnipotent ability to change games led Al-Ahly to an unprecedented 46 game unbeaten run. This run meant that the Cairo giants ended up winning a unique quadruple (Egyptian League, Egypt Cup, Egyptian Super Cup, CAF Champions League).
4) CAF Champions League Semi-Final 2005
The Cairo derby is the most important game of the African calendar. No doubt that it’s not ‘just a game’. When Al-Ahly faced Zamalek in the semi-final of the Champions League, the White Knights had to overcome a 1-2 away defeat if they were to progress. Barakota left Zamalek’s dreams in bits as he scored a brace towards the end of the game. This scoreline meant that the red side of Cairo won the tie 4-1 on aggregate.
3) Al-Ahly’s star 12/13
After ending the season in delight by winning Africa’s premier club competition, Al-Ahly offloaded players such as Abou-Treika, Gedo and Fathi to spend the season on loan at Dubai and England respectively. Barakat showed exactly why he has been admired by the Ahly faithful. Decisive goals such as the winner in the CAF Super Cup against Leopards of Congo, the CAF Champions League tie against Club Athletique Binzertin of Tunisia and more recently the brace against ENPPI showed us why Al-Ahly have been holding on to the 36-year-old. This time, Barakat had not only performed well, but he was the pivot, the engine.
2) Injury time equalizer against Zamalek to win the league 09/10
Whether it is a Cup final or an U-15 game, it is forbidden to lose to your rivals. Al-Ahly faced Zamalek in a title decider, a draw would be enough for the Red Devils to clinch their 35th title. However, if Zamalek clinch the three points it would mean the title race would reach it’s climax. With the game poised at 2-2, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy put the White Knights ahead with only six minutes remaining. In the final minute of added time, Barakat produced a moment of sheer magic to make sure that the league title would remain with Al-Ahly.
1) BBC African Footballer of the Year 2005
As you can see, 2005 was a special year for Barakat. What made it even more unique is that Barakota became the first Egyptian player to win such an award, bearing in mind that previous winners include George Weah, Kanu and Abedi Pele. The formers were all Africans but never African-based. Simply put, Barakat cemented his name in the history books by winning such a coveted, prestigious award. He not only did Egypt proud, but the whole continent by being an African player who does indeed ply his trade in Africa.
Of course, it was impossible to mention every important moment in only eight points, especially for a player of Barakat’s calibre. He is a living legend. We’ll have to wait and see if there will ever be another Egyptian player similar to Barakat.