2018/19 KingFut Season Preview: Pharaohs in the Gulf
Many Egyptians will be plying their trade in the Gulf region during the 2018/19 season, in a continuation of the trend that began last season.
Though a highly controversial topic among Egyptian football fans, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that Saudi Arabia and the greater Gulf region have had on Egyptian football in the last year as a significant number of players opted to head over to the Saudi Professional League.
Abdallah El-Said, Saleh Gomaa and Hussein El-Sayed are among a long list of Pharaohs in the Gulf. Newcomer El-Said will have a point to prove with Al-Ahli, while Gomaa and El-Sayed will be attempting to prove to Al Ahly why their loan moves should be cut short.
KingFut’s Evrosina Isaac previews the seasons of some of the Egyptian players in the Gulf, while assessing their potential for the season ahead.
Abdallah El-Said & Mohamed Abdel-Shafy
Abdallah El-Said and Mohamed Abdel-Shafy will be embarking on a tough season with Al-Ahli in an expanded Saudi Professional League season. With big games against Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, and Al-Nassr on deck, Al Raaqi will be looking to bring the league title back to Jeddah. El-Said will be hoping to revive his career which stagnated after his fall-out with Al Ahly last season. Meanwhile Abdel-Shafy, who has been captaining the team in their friendlies, will be securing his spot as Al-Ahli’s starting left-back with Mansour Al-Harbi’s transfer. Though Abdel-Shafy is a certain starter, El-Said who started in just a few friendlies will have to convince coach Pablo Guede before starting alongside his compatriot.
A product of Ismaily’s academy, Mohamed Awad will be leaving Egypt for the first time in his career. Al-Wehda, who were promoted to the Saudi Professional League at the end of the 2017/18 season, will open their league campaign against fellow promoted side Al-Hazm. It is almost certain that Awad will start for the Mecca-based club after having strong showings in the team’s friendlies including the 1-0 loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Saleh Gomaa joined Al-Faisaly on a year-and-half long loan from Al Ahly in the last winter transfer window. Though it seemed like the Cairo giants would recall Gomaa, the 25-year-old will find himself in the Saudi Professional League for another season. Gomaa had a hard time in the last campaign largely due to his lack of playing time with Al Ahly in the first half of the season. With a proper pre-season under his belt, Saleh is expected to start for Al-Faisaly. Al Annabi will start their season against Al-Batin, but will face the big four in quick succession afterwards. After reaching the final of the King’s Cup last season, Al-Faisaly will look to add silverware in the 2018/19 season.
Like Saleh Gomaa, Hussein El-Sayed is one of Al Ahly’s loanees who joined Al-Ettifaq in the last winter transfer window. He immediately slotted into the left-back position and looks set to continue to start for the club in the 2018/19 season. Al-Ettifaq was a black horse last season finishing in fourth place behind Al-Hilal, Al-Ahli, and Al-Nassr and ahead of Al-Ittihad. Similar to Saleh, the coming season will ultimately determine El-Sayed’s Al Ahly career or lack thereof.
After joining Al-Raed from Ittihad of Alexandria in the last winter transfer window, Mohamed Atwa was an integral part to the team’s survival from relegation. Though Al-Raed have made some signings in the transfer window, they likely still face stiff competition in the race for survival in the 2018/19 season. An unforgiving schedule has Al-Raed facing Al-Hilal in the second match of the season and facing Al-Ahli and Al-Nassr in back-to-back matches later on. Atwa has all but secured his spot as a starter, but it will be interesting to see who slots in next to the Egyptian.
After being a surprising omission from Egypt’s World Cup squad, Hussein El-Shahat will be looking to impress new Egypt national team coach Javier Aguirre. Al Ain will open their league campaign on August 31 against Emirates Club. Even though El-Shahat showed his class in his performances last season, it will be important that he stays consistent during the 2018/19 season with the transfer of Omar Abdel-Rahman to Al-Hilal.
Other notable players
Like last season, many Egyptian players made the move to the Gulf but this time in the form of Saudi second division teams. Al-Muzahimiyyah announced the signing of Egyptian duo Hany El-Egeizy and Mohamed Osama Morsy earlier in the week. Al-Muzahimiyyah finished in fifth place in the 2017/18 season after being first promoted to the Saudi second division in 2014.
Elsewhere, Mostafa Galal and Shehab Ahmed joined Al-Arabi and Al-Amal, respectively. Both teams also compete in the Saudi second division. Egyptian duo Wael Farag & Mohamed Abo-Sheashaa also joined Saudi second division side Al-Sharq during the transfer window.
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