DOHA, January 15, 2012 - Egypt’s Al Ahli club, founded in 1907, is one of the oldest and most celebrated football teams in Africa and the Middle East. Named the “African Club of the Century” by the Confederation of African Football, Al Ahli also has the largest fan-base in Egypt, with an estimated 60 million supporters.
But the Al Kass International Cup U-17 hasn’t been kind to Al Ahli’s U-17 team in this tournament. In the two games they have played so far, Al Ahli lost twice. Their first game against PSG resulted in a crushing defeat of 9-0. Their second game, despite an improved performance, ended with a 3-0 loss to FC Barcelona.
“I think the loss to PSG was the biggest disappointment we have ever faced. However, we stuck together as a team and we were determined to win the next match. Even if we didn’t win against Barcelona, I think we were able to play better,” said Mamdouh Eid, the director of coordination and PR for Al Ahli.
Al Ahli’s next game will be on Monday against the UAE’s Al Jazira in the play-offs for 9th and 10th place.
“We want to apologize to our Egyptian and Arab fans for losing against PSG. However, we are determined to play better in the future,” added Nabil Mamdouh Abdelaziz, the team captain for Al Ahli.
Since their formation, Al Ahli has succeeded in winning 122 cups. They have also won 36 out of about 50 leagues, which is considered to be a record percentage of wins in a league from all around the world.
“We choose to play in Al Ahli because it is the best club in Africa and the Middle East,” said Abdelrahman Ahmed, another team player.
Despite the crushing defeat, Eid thinks the tournament has been an educational experience for his team, providing them with a great opportunity to play against elite clubs from all over the world and helping improve their skills and performance.
“This is the first time the Al Ahli U-17 team plays with international counterparts. Even though we performed poorly, this has helped us see our level compared to other teams, and how much work we need to do to up our standards.”
“This tournament also allowed us to experiment with different styles of football by playing with clubs from around the world.”
The director also expressed his hopes that many of his junior players would be back in Doha for World Cup 2022 as professional players.
“A lot of Egypt’s biggest names came from Al Ahli, and I am sure that this U-17 team will produce big names if they continue to improve and develop their skills,” added Eid.
“I want to come back here again with Egypt in the 2022 World Cup, and be among the winning team,” added Nabil Mamdouh.