The 2006 AFCON Final Winners: Where are they now?
Almost 11 years ago, the Egyptian National Team won the 2006 CAF African Cup of Nations in front of a packed Cairo stadium. A fantastic feat on home soil, with Egypt defeating a star-studded, Didier Drogba-led Ivory Coast in a thrilling penalty shoot-out.
This 2006 title turned out to be the first stepping stone in an incredible, history-making run by the Pharaohs, who went on to win the 2008 and 2010 editions of the tournament to make them the first team in history to do so. The Pharaohs however, have not featured in the African Cup since the win in 2010, although they have qualified for next year’s edition to be held in Gabon. In the lead up to this, we look at the all-conquering starting team of the 2006 final and how their careers panned out after the tournament.
Essam El-Hadary – Only one word can describe this man: remarkable. El-Hadary was a stalwart in the national team set up back in 2006, aged 33. Amazingly, he is still in the National Team setup, nearly 11 years later, having recently started in Egypt’s 2-0 win over Ghana in World Cup Qualification. El-Hadary featured in both the triumphant 2008 and 2010 editions of the tournament. Club wise, the keeper has been somewhat of a journeyman, with often controversial results. El-Hadary signed for FC Sion in Switzerland in 2008, much to the dismay of Al Ahly, who claimed the signing was illegal. Following the issues with Sion, El-Hadary had stints at Ismaily, Zamalek, Al-Merrikh, Ittihad and Wadi Degla, where he is still currently playing.
Right wing back – Mohamed Barakat – Yes, you read right, Mohamed Barakat listed as a defender. Egypt played with a 5-3-2 formation in the final against Ivory Coast, with Barakat deployed as a right sided wing back. The skilful winger remained an integral part of the squad for Al Ahly following the tournament, winning 18 titles between 2006 and his retirement from football in 2013. Barakat was unfortunately not a part of the 2008 and 2010 winning teams, retiring from international football following the heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Algeria in qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Arguable one of Egypt’s most talented players of all time.
Centre Back – Ibrahim Said – An exciting prospect for the Egyptian national team at the time, Said was a part of the squad that went back to back with the 2008 tournament win in Ghana. An eccentric character off the pitch, success on a club level was hard to come by. In 2007 Said made the journey in to Europe, signing with Turkish side Caykur Rizespor before moving on to fellow Turkish side Ankaragucu. From 2008 onwards, Said moved between multiple clubs, often without making appearances due to contract issues, before ending up at Goldi FC in the Egyptian fourth tier, where he was a player/manager during the past season.
Centre Back – Abdel Zaher El-Saqaa – Abdel Zaher was a rock at the back for Egypt during the 2006 edition of the African Cup. Partnered mostly alongside Wael Gomaa, Egypt only conceded 3 goals in 6 games. El-Saqaa was in and out of the national team setup, being part of the squad at the 2010 tournament, whilst also famously playing a part in Amr Zaki’s crucial goal against Algeria in World cup qualification. El-Saqqa also had a steady European career, playing in Turkey for Denizlispor, Gençlerbirliği, Konyaspor and Eskişehirspor before ending up at Egyptian side ENNPI, from where he retired in 2012. El-Saqaa is currently working a first team coach in Shawky Gharib’s backroom staff in Entag El-Harby.
Centre Back – Wael Gomaa – Gomaa was an unbelievable presence in the backline of the Egyptian National team, both in the 2006 tournament and the years following. Gomaa was ever-present in the 2008 and 2010 African Cup teams, as well as being a starter during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign. The defender remained at Al Ahly for the rest of his career, retiring from the game in 2014 after winning an astounding 26 titles with Al Ahly. Gomaa took on the role of the director of football for a while before working as a pundit now for biggest sports network in the MENA region.
Left Wing Back – Mohamed Abdelwahab – Abdelwahab was amazing at the 2006 African Cup. Full of energy down the left wing and with a great cross as well, many thought Abdelwahab could potentially be a future star for the national team. In tragic circumstances Abdelwahab passed away at the age of 22 on August 31st, 2006. Abdelwahab collapsed during training for club side Al Ahly and was rushed to hospital, where doctors unsuccessfully tried to revive him. Doctors put his sudden death down to a pre-existing undetected heart condition. A great and tragic loss for Al Ahly and Egypt.
Centre Midfield – Mohamed Shawky – Shawky continued on with club side Al Ahly following the 2006 African Cup, winning the 2006 African Champions League, the 2007 CAF Super Cup as well as a host of domestic titles. The midfielder tried his luck in Europe, making the move to Middlesborough to team up with fellow Egypt team mate Mido. Following an injury plagued spell in England, where Shawky made 18 appearances, the Egyptian moved to Kayserispor in Turkey. Shawky impressed in the Turkish league, scoring an impressive 9 times in 23 appearances for his side. He made the move back to Al Ahly in 2010 before moving to Iraqi side Al Naft and Malaysian side Kelantan. Shawky then completed the round trip by moving back home for one last stint in the Egyptian League, signing with Arab Contractors before retiring.
Centre Midfield – Ahmed Hassan – With the 2006 Player of the Tournament award under his belt, Hassan had a number of offers from European sides. Having already been playing in Turkey for a number of years, Hassan opted to switch leagues and signed for Belgian giants Anderlecht, and more importantly, UEFA Champions League football. Following his European adventure, Hassan returned home with stints at both Al Ahly AND Zamalek before joining Petrojet on a player/manager contract that didn’t last long. By the end of his career, Hassan had also amassed 184 caps for the Egyptian National team, a world record which won’t be broken any time soon. Ahmed Hassan currently works as a pundit for an Egyptian sports network.
Attacking Midfielder – Mohamed Abou-Trika – The Emperor. The Magician. Superlatives do this man no justice. Abou-Trika who, was arguably player of the tournament in 2006, scored the final penalty in the final as well as the winner in the 2008 final. The Al Ahly talisman was present for Egypt during the 2009 Confederations Cup, where he famously delivered the ball in to the box for Mohamed Hommos to score in a famous 1-0 win over Italy. Abou-Trika also featured for Egypt at the 2012 Summer Olympic games. At the club level, Abou-Trika’s successes were almost unparalleled by the time he retired. 24 club titles with Al Ahly, one with Bani Yas in the UAE whilst out on loan as well as a host of individual awards from around the world. The Magician retired following a disappointing 2013 FIFA Club World Cup campaign with Al Ahly but will go down as one of Egypt’s greatest of all time. Abou-Trika currently works as a pundit for the biggest sports network in the MENA region.
Striker – Emad Meteb – Meteb has been somewhat of a Jekyll/Hyde example in the years following the 2006 AFCON final. On his day, a brilliant quick minded world class finisher. However there haven’t been that many of those days for both club and country in recent times. Meteb was a part of the 2008 and 2010 triumphs for the National Team and also scored a famous goal against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign. Meteb has still remained at Al Ahly, picking up a number of honours in his years at the Cairo giants. The striker also featured for the Egyptian side at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games held in London.
Striker – Amr Zaki – Wow, what a talent this guy could have been. Zaki replaced Mido in the starting line-up for the final following Mido’s touchline bust up with manager Hassan Shehata in the semi-final. Zaki earned a move to Europe following the tournament, signing with Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow. The Egyptian found it hard to adapt and returned to Egypt, signing with Cairo giants Zamalek. Zaki slowly but surely regained form and Zamalek were approached by English Premier League side Wigan in 2008 about a possible deal. Zaki was loaned to the English side and set the league alight, scoring goal after goal, with the official Wigan store running out of the letter ‘Z’ due to demand in print on the back of shirts with Zaki’s name. However, as has been the case with Egyptians in Europe in the past, poor discipline let Zaki down and his loan deal was terminated. Stints at Elazigspor, Hull City, ENNPI, Al Salmiya and Arab Contractors ensued, with the striker retiring in 2015. The striker also joined Egypt’s beach football national team earlier this year.
Ahmed Fathi – Fathi made a move to Europe following the 2006 AFCON, heading to England after agreeing a three and a half year deal with Premier League Sheffield United. Fathi struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the English game and returned back to Egypt, signing for Al Ahly in 2007. Loan spells at Kuwaiti side Kazma, Hull City and Umm Salal have occurred over the years, with Fathi returning to Al Ahly each time. Fathi is still active with the National Team as well and was one of Egypt’s key players during the 2-0 win over Ghana in World Cup qualifying.
Hassan Mostafa – The midfielder was one of a few who stayed in Egypt following the 2006 triumph. Mostafa remained at club side Al Ahly before going out on loan to Saudi side Al-Wahda in 2007. Mostafa returned to Egypt and signed for rivals Zamalek before moving on to Wadi Degla and El Dakhleya later on in his career. Mostafa was also a part of the 2008 winning African Cup squad. The midfielder retired in 2013 and is currently part of Hossam Hassan’s coaching setup at Al Masry.
Abdel Halim Ali – Ali had a quiet wind down to his career following the 2006 cup. Already in the twilight years of his career, Abdel Halim stayed on at club side Zamalek following the conclusion of the tournament, not winning any further silverware before announcing his retirement at the end of the 2008-2009 season. The legendary striker is currently working as a pundit for an Egyptian sports network.
Hassan Shehata – Shehata will go down as possibly the greatest manager in Egypt’s prestigious footballing history. Following the 2006 tournament, Egypt had been perceived major underdogs for upcoming continental tournaments. Shehata guided Egypt to a 2nd title in a row in Ghana in 2008, playing some dazzling attacking football along the way. By the time 2010 came, no one would have suspected that Egypt could do it again, but Shehata and his team did it again, winning an unprecedented 3rd CAF African Cup in a row. This was not by luck though, with comprehensive beatings of Nigeria, Algeria and Cameroon on the way to the final, ultimately beating a very strong Ghana 1-0 in the final. The only major let down of Shehata’s reign as manager would have been the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign, where Egypt fought back from the brink of defeat to force a play-off, only for the Golden generation to lose the play-off to rivals Algeria. Shehata has stints at Zamalek as well as clubs abroad in the years following 2006, but will always be remember for his management of the Golden Era of Egyptian football.
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