Alaa Abdel-Ghani

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Latest by Alaa Abdel-Ghani


SPORTS TALK: What's at stake

Much is riding on tomorrow s game in Cairo between Ahly and Asec Mimosas of the Ivory Coast in the African Champions League. There are half a dozen things Ahly will lose if they lose tomorrow. The club stands to lose its title as African champions; will lose the opportunity to be crowned an unprecedented …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Start slow

Zamalek s 2007 football league campaign kicked off with a bang. They lost their opening match. They lost their coach, who unexpectedly resigned, and they lost their captain to a chorus of spectator boos that forced him to announce his retirement. Zamalek are trying to win their first piece of silverware in three years. The …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Good news not always good

It s dullsville where everything is peachy, when everything is squeaky clean, where there s nothing wrong with anybody or anything. To be believable and acceptable, every story must have a dark side. There has to be a catch somewhere. Where there’s sugar there s got to be salt. When there s good sans the …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Never say die

There s no getting rid of Egyptian footballer Hossam Hassan. At 40, when most players would be kicking around nothing more than memories, Hassan has been chosen to play in a benefit match in Cape Town on July 18 between an African XI and a Rest of the World team in honor of Nelson Mandela. …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: The boys from Barca come to town

Everybody is talking about next Tuesday’s game in Cairo between continental giants Al-Ahly and Barcelona. The public is excited and should be: Barcelona are the European champions, one of the world’s legendary teams and come to town with enough superstars to produce a nova. Barca are expected to field the mesmeric and two-time world footballer …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Instead of 2010

Three weeks on and the media are still making a big deal of our winning the right to host the 2009 U-20 World Cup in soccer. The reason for all the noise is because most people felt the tournament compensated for the big fat zero we received from FIFA voters when we bid for the …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Mighty men

We don’t know who the strongest man in Egypt is, but last Saturday, in front of the Luxor temples and more than a few curious tourists, the quest began to find the Egyptian Hercules. Eighty men from Upper Egypt launched this first-time event in the country. Under the auspices of the National Sports Council and …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: No football for young hijab-wearer

I don’t quite understand why that 11-year-old Canadian girl of Egyptian origin was prevented from playing in a soccer match because of her headscarf. According to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which sets the rules for all levels of competitive organized soccer across the globe, existing rules are clear on what soccer players can …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Movie star with a message

We don’t usually give much thought to handicapped athletes but fortunately some people are not like us, like film star Hussein Fahmi, just selected as ambassador of the Middle East and North Africa region of SO, or Special Olympics. Fahmi’s famed looks and appeal is certain to help realize SO’s simple goal: to improve the …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Lucky strikes a bad idea

Everyone agrees that deciding soccer matches with penalty kicks is a bad idea – everybody, that is, except Egyptians. Egypt won last year’s African Cup of Nations and Egypt’s Ahly captured their last two African Super Cups, the last being two weeks ago, by winning penalty shootouts. Still, it s a miserable way to end …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: It's anybody's game

There’s a certain egalitarianism to championships that depend on just one game: On the condition that some semblance of equality exists between the two teams, like the underdog having just as much chance of winning as the favorite, making the game intriguing because of its unpredictability. Such question marks do not usually hover over a …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: A poll result based on passports

When they asked Amitabh Bachchan why he thought he had been selected the greatest star of the millennium in a BBC online poll, beating the likes of Marlon Brando, Lawrence Olivier and Charlie Chaplin, he said he believed it was due to the exceptionally large number of Indians in the world. His compatriots in the …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Past and present

The recent news that the world s most celebrated boy king, Tutankhamen, used to play football only adds to the long list of evidence that our old, old forefathers not only invented soccer but had a ball conceiving many other sports. That the ancient Egyptians were first in sports is well-documented. Because the Pharaohs were …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: What handball was

Cairo: Football, football and always football. Isn’t there anything else to talk about around here? So as to not be accused of too much soccer bias, let’s talk team handball. We are, after all, playing in the World Championship in Germany starting Jan. 19. We’ll be making our seventh straight appearance in a World Championship, …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports talk: Egyptian patriotism to shine at upcoming Games

CAIRO: Nothing gets the patriotic adrenalin going more than wars and sport. Thank God, we’re not involved in the former which makes the Pan-Arab Games and All-Africa Games, both to be played this year, the battles which will rally us around the flag. Egypt has a historical padlock on the Pan-Arab Games. We did not …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Success without a smile

Egypt capturing the Africa Cup of Nations was the definite high point of the 2006 calendar as we scan the year that was. The February win was sweet for these reasons: the tournament was staged in Egypt, nobody, especially Egyptians, thought Egypt would win it, and it gave Egypt a record five such titles. Besides …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Aboutrika deserves the best

They told him to stay a while longer on the field because he had been selected as one of the best footballers in the championship. He waited. and waited until he was told sorry, he hadn’t won after all. Deco, Luiz Adriano and Ronaldinho were chosen the three best players in the World Club Championship. …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Could be better

It’s a pity Ahly didn’t make it to the final of the World Club Championship (WCC) in Japan. A final appearance would have looked good on Ahly’s CV. But the club shouldn’t be too upset because the WCC is really not all that it’s cracked up to be. The WCC could easily rival and in …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Again to Japan

CAIRO: It could have been gold bullion, or classified documents about what kind of razor blades Mahmoud Ahmedinijad uses, or how Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary got pregnant when we all know she’s – well, you know. It was none of the above, but an invaluable cargo all the same, at least to Ahli. The prize …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: We and them

I’ve always wanted to compare what Egyptian football players get with those abroad, so now’s my chance. We know the difference is huge but we want to know how huge. A word of caution before we start. Because of the famously secretive nature of Egyptians, it is near impossible to know how much the country’s …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Sea, sand and speedball

CAIRO: Somebody invented running. Somebody invented swimming. Then came speedball and somebody had to invent that, too. The individual in question is an Egyptian, Mr Lofty, who came up with speedball in the 1960s as a warm up and practice exercise for tennis players in Egypt. For those of you who don’t know the first …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Champions despite all, but what awaits Al-Ahli in Japan?

We were wrong again, but who’s complaining? We said Sfaxien would beat Al-Ahli for the African Champions League; the opposite happened, but who cares? Our credibility was seriously thrown into doubt, but so what? We lost, but our team won and that’s what counts. However, lest our prediction be totally trashed, the truth is that …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Paradigm of pride; icon gets a facelift

Renovation of Cairo Stadium on the block CAIRO: Cairo Stadium, one of Egypt’s grandest symbols of independence, will ironically soon fall into foreign hands. Like Marlon Brando before his death, the stadium is gray, huge and broke. We are told it will not be sold to the highest bidder but will instead go under the …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Ahly in the crystal ball

Weighing team’s possibilities against Sfaxien If you want to know what will happen in the two-game final series between Ahly and CS Sfaxien in the African Champions League, starting with tomorrow’s penultimate match, look no further than right here. This column, a day before Ahly met ASEC of the Ivory Coast in the second leg …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Cover girls

Sports and religion can coexist For millions of people, sport is very nearly a religion, yet few, save neglected wives and girlfriends, complain. Why, then, is there dispute when we want to make room for religion in sport? Dressing modestly, while a visual expression of faith, creates a challenge for Muslim girls wanting to play …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

SPORTS TALK: Ahli faces pivotal match

Coach gets off without a reprimand CAIRO: By day’s end on Sunday, Al-Ahli will be crowned the defending champions of the African Champions League or referred to in less pristine terms. Ahli plays ASEC of Ivory Coast in Abidjan, nursing a delicate 2-0 lead from the first-leg of the semi-final. ASEC don’t usually lose at …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Heads of squash

CAIRO: As far as can be ascertained, only one person has ever played squash against both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Mohamed Awad is Egyptian who was once No 9 in the world, two reasons why he was granted court time with Mubarak. Awad’s date with Rumsfeld came in February …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Bodies for show

Should we talk about bodybuilding in this column? We ask because many people don’t think bodybuilding is a real sport. Egypt came first in the African bodybuilding championship held here last week and is readying for the Mediterranean championship next month. The achievement should not be overlooked but it doesn’t answer the question: Is bodybuilding …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Sports Talk: Best of all

The patient in hospital room 387 in Maadi used to finish first in some of the biggest, most famous races in the world. Today, he is involved in perhaps the toughest challenge of all – the race against time. A weak heart has sapped much of the strength that once coursed through the sinews of …

Alaa Abdel-Ghani