Gamal signing was probably the most difficult to negotiate, says Wits CEO
Amr Gamal was the driving force in his transfer to Bidvest Wits‚ said the club’s CEO Jose Ferreira‚ explaining the arduous machinations of landing an Egyptian international striker from Cairo giants Al Ahly.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt liked the look of Gamal when the striker started both the Cairo first leg 1-0 win to Ahly and second leg 0-0 draw in Johannesburg against Wits in the Caf Champions League in March.
Gamal hit the post on both games.
Hunt asked Ferreira to take a shot in the dark and enquire about the 26-year-old striker’s availability.
Fortunately for Wits‚ Gamal had a strained relationship with his coach at Ahly‚ Hossam El-Badry.
The striker had been highly impressed with Wits and their facilities in the return match at Bidvest Stadium.
Less fortunate was that El-Badry was in no mood to allow Gamal to leave.
The striker‚ though‚ from his time as a youth player‚ had a place in the heart of Ahly’s chairman‚ Mahmoud Taher‚ who eventually facilitated the transfer.
“We started working in earnest trying to secure Gamal’s services as soon as the season ended (in May)‚” Ferreira explained.
“This was probably the most difficult player that I ever had to negotiate for.
“You must understand the context under which we approached Ahly. It took a good two months of solid work every day to try to get the player here.
“It wasn’t so much the financial aspect of the deal – there is always that.
"But the most difficult part was the reluctance on the part of Al Ahly to let him come to us‚ and particularly their coach.
Ferreira said Ahly’s stature as the biggest club in Africa was a complication on its own.
“And the only reason Amr is here today is not because of us‚ not because of Al Ahly‚ it’s because of Amr Gamal.
“Because he persisted. He worked very hard trying to convince his club to allow him to come.
"His coach didn’t want to release him – in fact his coach was the biggest stumbling block in getting him to SA.
“And as much as Amr persisted with his club to try to get himself released‚ he also wasn’t helping us.
“In July he scored two goals in the Champions League (against Cameroon’s Coton Sport)‚ and we thought that was a step back.
"Last week in the Egyptian cup final he scored again (in Ahly’s 2-1 win against Al Masry).
“With five minutes left in extra time he came in‚ they were losing‚ he scored‚ then did the assist for the second. And they won the cup final.
“And every day I was speaking to my coach and saying‚ ‘We’re not going to get this player’.
“And if it wasn’t for Gamal‚ we wouldn’t have got him.
"He immediately fell in love with our club when Ahly played us in the Champions League. And his persistence‚ and that of his agent (Mohamed Habashy)‚ got him here.”
Gamal‚ who has 30 goals in 102 games for Ahly‚ will not have his work permit and international clearance in time for Wits’ league meeting against Free State Stars at Goble Park on Wednesday night.
Ferreira is hoping to have the paperwork concluded by Sunday’s first leg of Wits’ MTN8 semifinal against Cape Town City at Cape Town Stadium.