The return of Aboutrika
The Egypt v Uganda friendly in midweek saw the return to international football of Mohamed Aboutrika. The Egyptian playmaker, one of the key members in Egypt’s 2006 and 2008 Cup of Nations triumphs, had announced his retirement in the wake of the Port Said tragedy, where 74 fans died. In his second match back, after a substitute appearance for club side Al Ahly in the CAF Champions League against Ethiopian Coffee (you read that right), Aboutrika was an aerial threat throughout and eventually made Uganda pay by, fittingly, scoring the winner in injury time as Egypt recorded a 2-1 victory.
Despite being named the BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2008, Aboutrika has an obscure profile in Europe, by choice: firstly, Al Ahly have received offers but he has opted to stay at the Egyptian giants, showing gratitude that they made him who he is; secondly, to a much lesser extent, Al Ahly are regarded as the best supported club in Africa and the Arab world, Aboutrika gets paid well enough, that’s for sure. Whilst it’s impossible to fully expand on the qualities of Aboutrika here – as a player and as a human being – he is one of the symbols of what is good about modern Egypt. It’s good to see him back.