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Shikabala: I want to give league title to the fans

Shikabala unused

playmaker participated in an interview with a newspaper Record, explaining his arrival at the club, adaptation to Portugal, its football and his plans for the upcoming season.

Shikabala arrived at the Lisbon club in the last minutes of the January transfer window and had to adjust himself to a new country, a new style of football and improve his physical condition, all with the season in full swing – with playing chances coming few and far between.

“I believe it’s still early for me to evaluate myself correctly. I still haven’t been able to show anything, but I’m full of hope and desire to do so. I know I have a lot to give to Sporting. In fact, my biggest wish is to give the fans the league title, which they haven’t won since 2002. To be able to help this big club to win it would be tremendous,” said the 28-year-old Egyptian.

Regarding his transfer from Zamalek, which was riddled with various issues, Shikabala said that “the minutes that preceded the sending of the paperwork by Zamalek seemed like years,” and even considered retiring from football if the transfer failed to be concluded.

Shikabala considers that his breakthrough in Sporting’s main squad, in which he only played seven minutes in the last match of the season, was hindered by his physical condition and the difficulty in entering a well-oiled and harmonic squad, but hopes to “play regularly throughout the season” and that he is more aware of his strengths and weaknesses. He is also “working very hard” to improve his physical condition and is close to achieving his peak physical form.

About the pre-season and, most notably, his lack of game time in the Lisbon FA Honour Cup and consequent reaction, Shika says that he was “very sad to have stayed on the bench”, but is aware that he “cannot reserve a place in the starting XI just because I feel like it… This process of adaptation is gradual and I know I have to work hard until I successfully complete it.”

Speaking about life in Portugal, the midfielder is very happy in Lisbon, comparing the Portuguese people with the Egyptians. “The Portuguese have a lot in common with the Egyptians: they are very passionate and warm. I feel very welcomed in Portugal and can only thank everybody for that. From the people who approach me on the street to the people who work with me. I can guarantee that what helped me the most in the adaptation to Lisbon and this new life was the fact that I ran into a very special dressing room. It went a lot better and faster than I was expecting, thanks to the amity of the staff, co-workers and coaches.”

Sporting Lisbon begin their season next Saturday, away to Académica.

Alexandre Queirós is a Portuguese sports enthusiast, with particular focus African, Portuguese and Oceanic football. He followed the exploits of the Egyptian players plying their trade in Portugal for and also covers the rest of African football for other websites. He also proudly sates that he has been on the BBC World Service radio, even though he only said one sentence.

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