February 2019 KingFut Pharaoh of the month: Ahmed Hassan Kouka
This month’s KingFut’s Pharaoh of the Month award, which recognizes the best Egyptian athlete of February 2019, goes to Olympiacos FC forward Ahmed Hassan Kouka.
Egypt international, Ahmed Hassan Kouka, blossoms again with a spectacular performance this month after returning from injury with Greek giants, Olympiacos. The 25-year-old scored seven goals in seven games, three of which came against OFI Crete in the Greek Super League.
Ali Farag: KingFut’s January 2019 Pharaoh of the month.
Ever since he started playing in Europe, Kouka showed glimpses of a world-class target man in the making. However, his form in recent months has raised questions of whether he’s capable of playing in Europe or not. The former Al Ahly youngster, moved to Portugal in 2011 to join Rio Ave’s U19s. His performances earned him a promotion to the first team in the summer of 2012 where he managed to score ten goals in his first year at senior level. Kouka’s best season with Rio Ave came in 2014-15 season, when he netted 15 goals and assisted another two in 35 games in all competitions.
The Egyptian was eyed by many clubs across Portugal, which made him move to Portuguese side, SC Braga. His first season with the Archbishops was fantastic, replicating the same performance he had with Rio Ave. However, things went downhill during the second season, due to various injuries that placed him on the bench for many months, which led to his exclusion from Hector Cuper’s final 2018 World Cup squad of the Egyptian national team.
However, Kouka decided not to give up on his career, and decided to revive his career with a move to Greek giants, Olympiacos FC last summer. He suffered from a rough start with the Reds and Whites as scoring only three goals in 17 games and suffered from and injury that put him away for several weeks. However, as he recovered from injury, Kouka is proving all the doubters wrong with his recent magnificent form.
In February, Kouka started his tally in the Greek Super League as Olympiacos hosted Panionios at the Karaiskakis Stadium. After a goalless first half, that did not witness much action from both sides. The Egyptian opened the score sheet in the 68th minute tapping in Vassilios Torosidis’s low cross into the net, giving his team the lead. The game went on to end 4-0 for the hosts, with three important points in the title race with PAOK.
Four days later, Kouka came back to score again in his team’s Greek Cup quarter final clash against PAS Lamia that ended in a 3-3 draw. After receiving a volley inside the box, he managed to hold the ball, scroll past the defender and hit it right past the goalkeeper, and giving his team the lead.
Kouka’s first European night came against Dinamo Kyiv in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 meeting that ended in a 2-2 draw. In the 9th minute of the game, Olympiacos captain Costas Fortounis found Kouka unmarked who tried a left-footed shot that found its way to the Dinamo net. The second leg ended in a 1-1 draw, which later witnessed the elimination of the Greek side from the Europa League.
In the 21st round of the Greek League, Olympiacos hosted AEK Athens in an essential class to secure the second place of the table. In the 83rd minute, Kouka secured the win for the hosts after receiving a wonderful cross inside the box, hitting the ball with his right foot into the goalkeeper’s net. The match ended in a 4-1 win to the Reds and Whites, which gave them an eight point lead on the table, away from the third place, AEK Athens.
Kouka’s final and best game of the month came against OFI Crete in a thrashing 5-1 win to Olympiacos, seeing him score a hattrick in only 25 minutes. His first goal came from a a wonderful right shot inside the box that went past Crete’s goalkeeper as he managed to double his team’s lead. The Egyptian came in the second half ready to score more goals. It did not take him long, as he only scored after one minute after tapping in a precise cross from teammate, Konstantinos Fortounis. Eleven minutes later, Kouka scored his third goal of the night, to mark his second professional hattrick of his career, after a receiving a wrong pass from Crete’s goalkeeper, and shooting the ball into the net from outside the box.
Kouka’s performances earned him in a spot in Egypt national team coach, Javier Aguirre’s squad, for the upcoming game against Niger. It is time for him to shine with the Pharaohs who have been suffering from a deficiency of strikers, since many players such as Amr Gamal and Marwan Mohsen have not proved superiority in this position. The Egyptians were usually criticized for their excessive defensive style and tactics attributed to former head coach, Hector Cuper, who mainly relied on Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for scoring goals. With the appointment of new head coach, Javier Aguirre, the transition to an offensive style began to appear as the team scored 15 goals in four games under the new Mexican coach.
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