Egyptian Gamal cleared to play in Wits’ semifinal against CTN City

26 August 2017 - 13:17
By Marc Strydom
Egypt's Al Ahly footballer Amr Gamal.
Image: KHALED DESOUKI / AFP Egypt's Al Ahly footballer Amr Gamal.

Egyptian international striker Amr Gamal has received his clearances and is available for Bidvest Wits in their MTN8 semifinal first leg match against Cape Town City at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday.

Gamal‚ signed on a one-year loan with an option to buy this week from Cairo giants Al Ahly‚ has received his work permit and international clearance.

It remains to be seen if the new addition will have a role to play on Sunday‚ though if he does‚ it seems likely it will be from the bench.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt signed the 26-year-old having been impressed with Gamal over two legs when the Clever Boys met Ahly in the Caf Champions League in March.

“I saw he’ll give us‚ certainly good pace. From a defensive third he can get out with the ball‚” Hunt said‚ describing what Gamal can bring to Wits.

“In the attacking third he’s very brave. He can protect the ball when we need it. And he’s got a good shot – he can score goals from different angles.

“Aerially he can give us something. For a small guy he’s got good spring – he can jump.

“So that’s all round‚ and exactly what we need.”

Hunt described Gamal as an “old-fashioned No.9”. The Egyptian‚ who scored 32 goals in 102 games for Ahly and possesses a strong finish‚ will vie for centre-forward at Wits with James Keene and Eleazar Rodgers.

“I think strikers‚ if you look around the leagues around the world and how you want to play‚ for me a No.9 has always been a focal point‚” Hunt said.

“It’s not about the goal-scoring. It’s about leading the team‚ doing the requirements under pressure.

“And I think – well‚ I don’t think‚ I know – Amr can do that for us. And hopefully he can get on the end of some good service and score. But the most important thing is what he does for the team.

“He’s got to be brave. Hold the ball‚ working‚ doing all those things‚ and I think he does that.

“I think the mentality is the most important thing we’re bringing to our club. If you look at the mentality of where he’s been playing at Al Ahly‚ that’s what we’ve got to try and instill a bit more.”

Watching Wits train this season‚ it is noticeable how many players they have with European-based experience – in the case of Steven Pienaar‚ at the highest level with Ajax Amsterdam‚ Borussia Dortmund‚ Everton and Tottenham.

Daylon Claasen played in Belgium and Germany‚ Keene in England and Sweden‚ Bongani Khumalo in England and Greece‚ Darren Keet in Belgium‚ Granwald Scott in Slovakia‚ and new signing Slavko Damjanovic in native Montenegro and Serbia.

Add Gamal’s background at Ahly that Hunt described as “militaristic”‚ and you have a wealth of experience and professional work ethic that can rub off on training sessions‚ and consequently matches.

Wits were unfortunate – hitting the post and missing chances – to lose 1-0 to City in their league opener at Bidvest Stadium.

They will aim for a better start in the first leg of this semifinal tie.