Amro Tarek's American Dream is the key to his Pharaohs fantasy with Eygpt

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Major League player Tarek has major ambitions with the Egypt national team. (Getty Images)
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Updated 12 September 2018
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Amro Tarek's American Dream is the key to his Pharaohs fantasy with Eygpt

  • Orlando City player happy in the MLS and has set his sights on playing at the next World Cup.
  • The left-back has found favor with new Pharaohs boss Javier Aguirre.

LOS ANGELES: There was no sympathetic one-on-one chat with Hector Cuper to inform Amro Tarek that his dreams of going to the World Cup were over.
The simple squad announcement of the final 23 players dispassionately told Tarek that he was one of six culled from Egypt’s preliminary group of hopefuls. The defender was unceremoniously grounded, while his compatriots boarded the flight to Russia. He would return to club employers Orlando City and watch the Pharaohs’ underwhelming displays in Group A from afar.
But Tarek is neither bitter at being left out of Egypt’s final squad, nor at the lack of a gentler approach from former head coach Cuper. After just one previous cap for his country — last year’s friendly against Togo — the 26-year-old accepted that he was not part of the core who had secured a first World Cup appearance in 28 years.
Instead, the central defender is channelling his focus into playing a part in the African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign and the 2022 World Cup bid by sufficiently impressing newly appointed head coach Javier Aguirre.
If first impressions are anything to go by, then Tarek is certainly on Aguirre’s radar after he was named in the squad for last week’s 6-0 rout over Niger.
“It’s a new chance for everyone under the new man,” said Tarek.
“Of course, it was hard for me to watch the World Cup. But I was okay with it. I hadn’t been with the group for long, so it was good for me to even be included in the preliminary squad. Like any Egyptian, I was able to support the team.
“It was motivation for me for 2022. My goal is the same, to keep working hard and to eventually join them and play for the national team.
“We didn’t win a game at the World Cup, which is bad, but the big positive is that we reached the finals after 28 years, which was a very long time.
“We have to learn from that experience as a country and make sure we’re prepared for 2022.”

Ex-Egypt boss Hector Cuper left Tarek out of his World Cup squad this summer. 


Tarek believes his chances of being at the heart of the Egypt line-up over the next four years have been boosted by his loan move from Wadi Delga to Orlando last February — a deal which is due to be converted into a permanent switch at the end of the MLS season next month.
He had previously been something of a journeyman after spells in Germany, Spain, Egypt and briefly in MLS with Columbus Crew, but he has become a regular at Orlando this season; starting 18 games for a team that has struggled toward the bottom end of the Eastern Conference.
With footballing standards in the States on the rise and big name signings Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic heading across the Atlantic in recent months, Tarek believes he is playing on a stage where his international credentials will be noticed.
“Yes, I think it has helped me a lot because it is such a competitive league,” said Tarek, who was born in Los Angeles before moving to Egypt as a child.
“If I continue starting with my team, then it will help my chances. There’s a lot of talented players here and it keeps growing each year.”
Of course, Tarek is far from the only member of the Pharaohs squad to be plying his trade outside Egypt. Of the 23-man squad for the World Cup, nine are currently based in either Europe or the US. Aguirre’s first squad went one step further, with 13 players from overseas clubs.
While the likes of Mo Salah and Mohamed Elneny remain Egypt’s Premier League trailblazers, there are plenty of others operating at a high level, whether that be the English Championship, MLS or Turkish Super Lig.
Tarek is in a good position to assess the standards of playing both domestically and abroad. After the turmoil of the 2011 revolution had subsided, he enjoyed three spells in the Egyptian Premier League with El-Gouna, ENPPI and Wadi Degla. But he believes the combination of home-based players and those based further afield can only be beneficial to the side’s development.

The Orlando City player has found favor with new Egypt coach Javier Aguirre having been named in the squad for last week's clash against Niger.  

He added: “Football in Egypt was in a very good position until we had the problem in 2011, which took it down again.
“But now I think it’s improving a lot and keeps improving each year.
“We have a bunch of players now playing outside Egypt too who are all playing at a high level with good clubs. That can only be good for the national team.”
Tarek hopes MLS continues to be a happy hunting ground for Egyptian players looking to further their careers overseas.
At the start of the MLS season, Orlando City’s Tarek was one of three Egyptian internationals playing their club football in North America, alongside Ali Ghazal at Vancouver Whitecaps and Omar Gaber at LAFC. Gaber’s stint in Los Angeles proved to be short-lived after he returned to the Egyptian Premier League by joining Pyramids FC last month.
However, Tarek — who became the first Egyptian to play in MLS when he had a brief spell at Columbus Crew two years ago — is eager to see more of his compatriots follow him across the Atlantic.
“Everyone can see how good the league is now and I hope there’s more Egyptian players that come out here,” he said.
“It will be good for the national team if we can have a lot of us playing in MLS.”
Tarek initially joined Orlando on a season-long loan from Wadi Delga in February, yet there is a clause in the contract for the deal to be made permanent and the Florida club are expected to exercise that option at the end of the season.
Despite Orlando currently lying second bottom of MLS’ Eastern Conference, the 26-year-old is eager to stay at the club, which recently appointed former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder James O’Connor as manager in a bid to reverse their fortunes.
Tarek added: “I like the MLS and playing at Orlando.
“It’s a great city, so I would very much love to stay.
“We’re trying to improve in each training session and each game; working on our defensive shape as a team because we’ve conceded a lot of goals.
“We are on the right path, but we have to keep working hard and work with the coach.”


Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

Updated 23 September 2018
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Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

  • The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title
  • Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2

CAIRO: Al-Ahly coach Patrice Carteron has warned his players against complacency in their forthcoming African Champions League semifinal clash against Setif of Algeria, even though his side swept through with a 4-0 quarterfinal second-leg victory over Guinea’s Horoya in Cairo on Saturday.
The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title with the win against the Guineans after a goalless first leg. From the moment Walid Soliman opened the scoring after 32 minutes at the Al-Salam Stadium, the result was never in doubt as the Reds put in a dominant performance.
Second half goals from Islam Mohareb, Salah Mohsen and Ahmed Fathy confirmed the win.
“It was a good performance, especially as the pitch was poor,” Carteron said. “We are happy to go through but we controlled the game, especially in the second half when we were at our best. We adjusted our offensive strategy at the break and that made a difference.”
Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2.
“We know that the game will be very tough as Setif are a strong team but this is the semifinal of the Champions League, you know that any game is going to be tough,” added the Frenchman.
Setif defeated defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 on aggregate and will host Al-Ahly in Algeria in the second leg on Oct. 23.
“Setif were the champions in 2014 and we know that we are going to have be at our best if we are going to the final,” said the 48 year-old, who also coached TP Mazembe of Congo to the 2015 title. He is aiming to deliver similar success for Al-Ahly, who last lifted the trophy in 2013.
“When I took the job three months ago, the target was clear: to win the Champions League. That is still the objective and we have taken a big step toward that today.
“Standards in the competition are getting better all the time and results in the quarterfinal show this,” Carteron said, adding that he and his players had taken note of how Mazembe had been knocked out at the last-eight stage.
“Now we are in the semifinal and we have to prepare as well as we can to face Setif. It will be a big challenge but we are looking forward to it.”
Setif reached the semifinal after a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Morocco on Friday to take the tie 1-0 on aggregate following a win on Algerian soil a week earlier.
Goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba was the star of the show in Casablanca and made a number of fine saves to deny the defending champions.
It was a feather in the cap for coach Rachid Taoussi, a Moroccan who coached Wydad from 2002 to 2003.
“We managed this game very well,” Taoussi said. “We withstood the pressure. It is not easy to keep out such a team, especially with their fans behind them. In the end they had to play long balls and that made it easier for us to defend.”
While Morocco may have lost its sole representative left in the competition, Taoussi is flying the flag for his homeland. “I am proud to be Moroccan. I respect Wydad and the supporters a lot. It’s not easy for anyone to come here and play like we did.
“It is also a demonstration for those who constantly criticize the skills of Moroccan coaches. I’m so happy. That said, the most important thing for us now is to think about going even further in this competition, that is, reaching the final. We have one more step to go; we will give everything until the end.”
The other semifinal sees a third North African team trying to reach the showpiece event as Esperance de Tunis take on Clube Desportivo de Agosto of Angola.