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Alex McLeish warns Coulibaly after Al Ahly Move

Alex McLeish

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Former Zamalek head coach Alex McLeish warned Al Ahly’s new signing  about playing in Egypt because of the government bans on crowds at league matches.

The Red Devils completed the signing of Souleymane Coulibaly from Scottish side Kilmarnock FC on a three-and-a-half year deal and inserted a sell-on fee as well into his contract.

McLeish talked about his experience coaching one of Cairo’s two poles and how he wasn’t used to the absence of the fans at that time. The coach stayed with Zamalek for only nine weeks until his contract was terminated his by mutual consent. It is worth mentioning that he enjoyed a fairly good success rate at Zamalek and led the team to the group stages of the CAF Champions League, with an overall record of six wins, two draws and two losses.

“What he’ll have to get used to is balancing the passion for the game that exists with the fact that there aren’t any crowds at matches,” McLeish said warning Coulibaly. “It took me by surprise, and it was hard to get used to. But it’s just the way of the world there. When I was there they told me Cairo had a population of 25 million equally divided between Zamalek and Al Ahly fans.”

The former Aston Villa coach spoke about the importance of playing for Al Ahly and Zamalek, even though nine teams in the league play in Cairo. “I didn’t get the chance to sample one of the derbies while I was there unfortunately. I’d have loved the challenge.”

“Even though they don’t get to see it, the derby is all that’s important to the supporters. Last season Zamalek won the Cup Final against Al Ahly and Martin Jol left his job as coach the next week, even though they’d won the title and reached the group stage of the African Champions League,” he added.

McLeish also thinks that competition between the two sides will be higher as Zamalek were also on Coulibaly’s trail but failed to sign the 2011 U17 FIFA World Cup top scorer. “If Zamalek wanted him and he’s joined Al Ahli, Zamalek will be gutted.”

“I’ve only seen him on television but Coulibaly looks like a guy who can score spectacular goals. Whether or not he’s a natural goalscorer remains to be seen,” he said. “He’s been in England and Italy, as well as Scotland, so he’s obviously not fazed by moving around a bit to play. And although Egypt’s different from the Ivory Coast where he’s from, he won’t have too many problems with the culture.”

In addition to being a hardcore football fan, Abdelrahman is a communications enthusiast who works in marketing, advertising, content creation and PR.

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