Ahmed Elmohamady interview: Egypt must back Bob Bradley
Prior to the Egyptian national team’s closed training camp, Reem Abulleil spoke exclusively with Ahmed Elmohamady for KingFut.com as the Pharaohs prepare for the crucial World Cup qualifier at Zimbabwe this Sunday.
Ahmed Elmohamady has urged the Egyptian public and media to stand by and support national team coach Bob Bradley as he looks to guide the Pharaohs to their first World Cup Finals since 1990.
Hull City’s Player of the Year, Elmohamady, who provided the cross for Ahmed Hegazy’s headed goal against Botswana in a friendly last Tuesday, believes Bradley is on the right track to leading Egypt towards some unprecedented success and hopes that all Egyptians can rally behind him and the national team.
“People back home love criticizing everyone. Our media in Egypt have to leave behind this constant criticism and stop thinking about their own agendas,” Elmohamady said ahead of the Botswana clash and the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
“We have to become more professional. Bob Bradley has done something unprecedented in our history, taking nine points in the first three qualifying matches.
“So what if he lost some friendlies where he is experimenting with some young players and mixing them with the experienced players? Losing to Ivory Coast and Ghana in a friendly, two teams who were in their prime and heading to the African Cup – at the end of the day it’s a friendly and isn’t a disaster.
“Regardless of how it affects our FIFA ranking. It’s unfair to criticize him for these losses. He has a vision and we have to support him. Making it to the World Cup will be good for everyone, not just the football team. This is something great for Egypt.”
The Sunderland winger, who is close to securing a permanent move to Hull City, heaped praise on the American, and explained how he has had a positive effect on the squad, which he has managed to bolster with a good combination of both experienced and young players.
Elmohamady added: “Bob Bradley is such a professional and treats us as professionals and all the players are very comfortable with him. At first, the players weren’t used to this Western way of doing things, small things, like not wearing a cap while dining with the team and such things.
“He made sure to instill these disciplinary things in everyone. He told us at first that there are some things to get used to and now we are all on the same page. We’re doing well, touch wood and hopefully we’ll continue this way.
“He knows who are the pivotal players in the national team and he follows the league at home very closely. I don’t think we had that in the past, a coach who would go to the stadiums and scout the players himself and watch them himself. Every camp he brings in two or three different players to include in the squad and he’s the ultimate professional.”
It is indeed Egypt’s best start to a World Cup qualifying campaign and when asked why he thought the team has started so well, Elmohamady said: “Before, we used to finish strong in the African Cup of Nations qualifying, we used to go there and win the Cup, but recently we’ve done the opposite. We’ve started well in the World Cup qualifying campaign and haven’t qualified for Africa. It’s almost like the fans have got tired of us doing so well in Africa. Now we’re focused on the World Cup, once we make it, we can go back to dominating Africa like we’ve been used to.”
If Egypt successfully get through the group stage, they will play another group winner in a home and away fixture with the winners sealing a precious place in Brazil.
“It’s the first time qualifying is done that way and I like this format,” said Elmohamady. “It gives a bigger chance to the teams to make it. It will be very fierce because the strongest 10 teams in Africa, all the group winners will take part in the draw that will see every two teams face off in a home and away clash. So I’m hopeful.”
Elmohamady is coming off a dream season where he was on loan with Hull City and played a big part in the Tigers’ promotion to the Premier League and was voted by the fans as the player of the season.
He is on the verge of sealing a move back to the KC Stadium, where Egyptian owner Assem Allam hopes to bring in more Egyptian players in the future, especially after a successful season with Elmohamady, Mohamed Nagy “Gedo” and Ahmed Fathi all contributing to the Tigers in one way or another.
“Assem Allam, when he told me his story, he struggled so much and fought hard for the life he has now. He’s been in the UK for about 45 years and is a very respectable man. His whole family loves football and are always onsite,” says Elmohamady.
“I believe Egyptians have a future with Hull. Assem Allam has spoken recently saying that he wants to bring more Egyptian players on loan and we can see that the Gedo experience was a successful one.
“This is a great thing for Egypt because we need more professional players abroad. You can see when we play other African countries – there are 25 players in a squad, almost 20 of them are playing abroad, but in our case, it’s the opposite. We need this percentage to increase and Assem Allam is helping with that. I am hoping that more players from Egypt come to the Premier League, not just in Hull but in other teams.”
When asked whether he has any hopes or aspirations to play in any other league in the world, Elmohamady said: “When I was young, my dream was to play in the EPL and thank God I achieved that dream. I don’t want to play anywhere else because this is the strongest league in the world. Some of the best players in the world have left the EPL and they still like to go back. Look at Cristiano, he left the UK and went to one of the best teams in the world, Real Madrid, but he tried it and wants to come back. The fans here and atmosphere are indescribable and I want to finish my career in England.”
Reem Abulleil is an Egyptian reporter and sub-editor for UAE sports daily, Sport360, and holds a Masters Degree in Sports Journalism. She has also contributed to Eurosport, BBC World Service, The Guardian, Dubai TV and radio among other media outlets. You can follow her on Twitter @ReemAbulleil.