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PREVIEW: Omar Gaber’s challenge for the 2015/2016 season


There’s no doubt that Zamalek fans were disappointed to see club icon leave for this summer.

Not only was he a fan favourite, his unique playing style gave the White Castle a dimension of energy and creativity up and down the right side of the field: attributes that Zamalek will struggle to replace in their search for a replacement first-choice rightback.

Although Zamalek will surely miss his trademark runs, FC Basel seem to be a little less desperate for the Egyptian at the moment.

The Swiss champions have played 5 league matches so far this season winning all 5, and Omar Gaber has only played two of them completing 90 minutes in both matches. One of those matches was at leftback.

The person responsible for that at the moment is Michael Lang: an experienced defender and Swiss Super League veteran. He’ll serve as Gaber’s main competition for the remainder of the season.

The easiest choice for Gaber at the moment would be to put off by his lack of playing time, make a few calls home and try to return to Egypt where he has no lack of admirers.

However, the track record for Egyptian footballers playing abroad has greatly improved lately. Although it still remains too common that talented players struggle to adapt to a new culture and league when they leave Egypt for a foreign country, more and more players are digging in and successfully fighting for their place.

Gaber should do no differently. He will have to be patient, work hard and earn the trust of his manager in order to secure a permanent spot in the starting XI for the Swiss champions.

That formula hasn’t done Egyptians too badly in recent seasons. The talented Mohamed Salah had an explosive start to his career at FC Basel but Mohamed Elneny had to bide his time in order to develop his game and become a regular starter. Eventually though he was rewarded with a transfer to Arsenal.

As talented a footballer as Omar Gaber has been so far in his career, the most exciting aspect of his move to Switzerland is seeing how far he can take his game by being diligent, developing his strengths and improving on his weaknesses. With FC Basel, he’s at the perfect club to do that.

Concentrating on his defensive positioning, improving his overall physique in the gym and learning enough of the language to better communicate with his defensive line would do no harm in his hunt for regular minutes.

In the end, his own attitude and hunger will determine how high his ceiling is and Egyptian fans should be licking their lips at the prospect.

Michael Saad is an Egyptian-Canadian living in Toronto. A lifelong supporter of Zamalek through family inheritance, he covers the White Knights on KingFut and monitors the progression of the Egyptian national team carefully. Outside of Egyptian football, he is a passionate Arsenal and Toronto FC fan.

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